Though the Halloween season may be over, it’s never too late for a good scare. Now in its opening weekend, “Doctor Sleep” is the latest film from the mind of acclaimed writer Stephen King, both an adaptation of his own 2013 novel, but also a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic adaptation of “The Shining.”
Kubrick’s film is still cited as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. However, King himself was dismayed by the changes that Kubrick made to his story. In writing the sequel, King completely disregarded the well-known canon of Kubrick’s vision and returned to the world of his own creation, following a now grown up Danny Torrance through his adult life, full of addiction, loss, and supernatural terror.
With two separate but equally genius narratives, it seemed like a near impossible task to make an adaptation that could remain both faithful to King’s sequel, as well as to the cold genius of Kubrick’s cinematic vision. Luckily, the job fell into the right hands.
Mike Flanagan, the mind behind the critically-acclaimed Netflix series “Haunting of Hill House,” proved his skills as both a writer and director in this latest foray into the Shining universe. The end result is one to behold, in almost all ways a perfect mirror of King’s novel, remaining faithful to every element that made the sequel so great, while still presenting the world through a beautiful lens worthy in every way of Stanley Kubrick’s legacy.
Not only does Flanagan manage to live up to both narratives, but he is able to build on it with a surprising amount of emotion and depth thanks to knockout performances from the cast, including Ewan McGregor (Dan Torrance), Rebecca Ferguson (Rose the Hat) and 13-year-old Kyliegh Curran (Abra Stone) who all portray their character’s own sense of trauma, loss, and emotional turmoil in a stunning and often heart-wrenching fashion.
Though most of the film follows the plot of King’s novel closely, as the ending approaches, Flanagan pans away from its trajectory and dives full in on Kubrick’s vision of the Overlook Hotel. This deviation from King’s source material has one purpose: to take the narrative back to what was initially intended.
By merging these two visions and giving The Overlook an ending worthy of King’s stamp of approval, Flanagan manages to pull of the impossible, pleasing both fans of the novel and fans of Kubrick’s cult classic, all while making a film that is undeniably full of his own creative eye for horror.