Mike Flanagan’s adaptation pushes horror boundaries, while paying homage to “The Shining” and Stephen King’s celebrated source material
Just shy of 40 years since Stanley Kubrick’s original, modern horror master Mike Flanagan has taken on the daunting task of following up the iconic 1980 film The Shining while also adapting Stephen King’s ambitious source material. Confused yet?
While the film does have some great ideas when it comes to trying to tackle both these problems, Flanagan trying to pull off this difficult juggling act is where Doctor Sleep becomes the most muddled. Tonally the film ends up a little messy with offering audiences a punch in the face worth of nostalgia for the 1980 film, while also adding in some bizarre fantasy elements featured in the Doctor Sleep novel. On top of this, at a runtime of 152 minutes, the film could have benefitted from a bit of trimming, but by the end, Flanagan offers enough thrills and chills to make the journey worthwhile.
Apart from the slight pacing and tonal issues, Doctor Sleep proves to be one of the better Stephen King adaptations in recent years, due in large part to Flanagan’s knack for blending horror and drama. Backed up by a killer performance by Ewan McGregor and some set pieces that will stick with you long after the film closes, Doctor Sleep ends up having a lot to say about the effects that our parents have on our upbringings.
One other highlight of Doctor Sleep, is it’s willingness to push the boundaries, most notably when it comes to on screen violence. One scene in particular involving a young baseball player is sure to leave audiences a little queasy, while another scene involving a filing cabinet may remind viewers of another Stephen King classic in Gerald’s Game (also adapted by Flanagan).
Surely, Doctor Sleep won’t convince any Shining haters, but for diehard Stephen King fans, and fans of the abstract nightmare that is Stanley Kubrick’s original, Doctor Sleep is a worthy addition to the Overlook universe.