Stephen King’s novels and short stories have been getting the big screen treatment going all the way back to 1976 with the horror classic Carrie. Between movies (Stand by Me, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption) and miniseries (It, The Stand, Storm of the Century), King’s work has been consistently entertaining and frightening audiences.
But with the massive success of the new version of It in 2017, remakes of his earlier stories have become a priority in the industry. We already got Pet Sematary and It: Chapter Two in 2019 and there’s more to come over the next few years, including a new miniseries of The Stand and updates to The Tommyknockers and Cujo.
Perhaps the most anticipated King adaptation however isn’t a remake, but a sequel to The Shining. Attempting to remake Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece is a daunting task, so director Mike Flanagan decided to continue the story by adapting King’s 2013 follow-up: Doctor Sleep.
And if the first reactions are any indication as to the quality of the film, it seems that Flanagan has met those lofty expectations as critics are praising Doctor Sleep as a worthy sequel and one of the year’s best horror pics.
#DoctorSleepMovie: A hallucinogenic horrorscape, @flanaganfilm channels King’s waking nightmares & familial trauma artfully. Crafts visceral, disquieting dread not too dissimilar to Kubrick’s masterpiece. McGregor & Ferguson give perfectly pitched performances.@DoctorSleepFilm pic.twitter.com/IF6YJhDBTz
— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) October 25, 2019
Brilliant, disturbing, impressive, clever, emotional, surprising, a visual delight… but enough about me. #DoctorSleep is great, peeps. But bloody graphic with the violence in parts and very upsetting but so well done. I can see why Stephen King and team Kubrick approve. pic.twitter.com/tSHco2MZZi
— Amanda (@filmvsbook) October 25, 2019
Fans of #TheShining are really gonna love #DoctorSleep. It's at its best when its fueled by follow-up. Starts slowly and descends into madness, just like its predecessor. One specific scene is really horrifying, some solid scares, and good performances across the board. pic.twitter.com/NnHcq1ia8Q
— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) October 25, 2019
As a huge fan of Kubrick's The Shining, King's books & Mike Flanagan, I'm giddy that Doctor Sleep is seriously GREAT. It's an excellent & faithful adaptation that makes smart changes — especially melding the '80 film & the sequel book — and the casting/performances are phenomenal pic.twitter.com/tvkDt3jonJ
— Evil Eric Eisenberg (@eeisenberg) October 25, 2019
It’s been a great yr for Stephen King adaptations but I think #DoctorSleep is the best of the bunch. Thrilled me in ways I wasn’t expecting, made me emotional at times & Rebecca Ferguson is ferocious. What a wonderful celebration of Kubrick, King & @flanaganfilm’s career as well. pic.twitter.com/jQ8ktEeUVE
— Heatherface Wixson (@thehorrorchick) October 25, 2019
#DoctorSleep is another trauma-fuelled emotional horror from Flanagan that made me ugly cry in public. Understandably shakes up the book quite a bit, but keeps King's heart right where it needs to be. Where does one sign up for Rebecca Ferguson's cult? Asking for a friend. pic.twitter.com/Jfs2FggiPf
— Haleigh Foutch (@HaleighFoutch) October 25, 2019
Even the man himself, Stephen King, is lauding Flanagan’s take on the material:
DOCTOR SLEEP: Mike Flanagan is a talented director, but he’s also an excellent storyteller. The movie is a good thing. You’ll like this if you liked THE SHINING, but you’ll also like it if you liked SHAWSHANK. It’s immersive.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 23, 2019
Smart move by King to mention Doctor Sleep in the same breath as The Shawshank Redemption ahead of its release. But the comparisons to The Shining are what everyone will be interested in.
After all, King famously hated Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel. And despite the film becoming a classic in the nearly 40 years since its release, he hasn’t changed his stance.
In an interview with Deadline in 2016, King said:
“I think ‘The Shining’ is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.”
Warner Bros.’ decision to hire Flanagan was a no-brainer, as in less than a decade, the writer/director has made five terrific horror films including a pair of Netflix gems (Hush, Gerald’s Game) and the outstanding series The Haunting of Hill House (also at Netflix). Now, it looks like he’s hit it out of the park once again and we can’t wait to see the movie for ourselves when Doctor Sleep opens nationwide on November 9th.