New Blu-ray Releases Parasite

Brace yourselves, my friends – this week’s Blu-ray column is packed. There are so many movies here that you probably want to block out your entire day just to read this. Go ahead, clear your calendar. Call in sick from work. Lock all your doors, draw the blinds, and feast your eyes. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

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doctor sleep director's cut

Doctor Sleep was already a long movie to begin with, but it’s about to get even longer. A Doctor Sleep director’s cut is headed to digital and Blu-ray in 2020, bringing Mike Flanagan‘s Stephen King adaptation to a full three-hour runtime. Flanagan spoke recently about what to expect from the director’s cut, which will apparently be even more faithful to the book and restore some character moments.

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doctor sleep spoiler review

Time will be kind to Doctor Sleep, a bold, audacious, unapologetically sentimental horror film. The box office returns are paltry, and the film itself has its fair share of problems. And yet, Mike Flanagan‘s tender adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel shines because it’s so committed to embracing emotion. Stanley Kubrick’s cold, unfeeling, excellent The Shining jettisoned the sentimentality so prevalent in King’s work. Doctor Sleep attempts to reconcile this with Kubrick’s legacy.

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doctor sleep sequel

Doctor Sleep was expected to be a big hit for Warner Bros., and the studio had such high hopes that they were already planning a sequel. But as the saying goes, life comes at you fast, and while The Shining follow-up garnered positive reviews, the box office returns have been a major disappointment. So what happens now? We don’t know. But we do have some idea of what kind of sequel director Mike Flanagan was planning.

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Doctor Sleep Jack Torrance Scene

The most important scene in Doctor Sleep isn’t in the trailers. You won’t find a glimpse of it in the marketing. And a recognizable actor, who appears exclusively in this scene, has been left out of just about every cast list. It’s all by design, of course. Because the most important scene in Doctor Sleep is a big swing from writer/director Mike Flanagan, one that he knew would prove controversial with horror fans. Somehow, it works. Heck, it’s even the scene that convinced author Stephen King to give the movie his blessing.

I was able to speak with Flanagan and his longtime producer Trevor Macy about the scene, their conversations with King, the casting of that actor, and more. There are major spoilers for Doctor Sleep from this point on.

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weekend box office doctor sleep

Has the Stephen King movie adaptation bubble burst? Or was opening a big horror movie a week after Halloween a huge misstep? In any case, Doctor Sleep, Warner Bros.’ big sequel to The Shining, failed to generate much steam over the weekend. The Mike Flanagan-directed King adaptation was tracking toward a $25 million opening weekend, but the real result was an underwhelming $14.1 million. To add insult to injury, the film came in second to Roland Emmerich’s abysmal Midway.

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doctor sleep rebecca ferguson

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

Because Doctor Sleep is a sequel to Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation, it’s easy to say those are the only sources of inspiration. But while watching what director Mike Flanagan has conjured up with his newest film, there are other movies from which he draws on, both overt and subtle. One can talk about the movie and not need to bring up The Shining

In going down the Doctor Sleep rabbit hole, one thing became apparent: though set in 2019, the movie feels pulled from our current nostalgic love for the ‘80s, specifically the features of 1987. I’m not sure why the comparisons to 1987 come through the clearest, maybe it was because that was the year the ‘80s as an aesthetic was defined (Gordon Gecko would declare “Greed is good” in Wall Street that year). Either way let’s use this installment of Classically Contemporary to revisit 1987, The Overlook Hotel, and Doctor Sleep

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Doctor Sleep Q&A

As director Mike Flanagan has risen to become one of the most distinctive voices working in modern horror, he’s always had one man in his corner: producer Trevor Macy. The two have collaborated on Oculus, Hush, Before I Wake, Gerald’s Game, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and The Haunting of Hill House and their partnerships continues with Doctor Sleep.

I was able to sit down with Macy to discuss how they received Stephen King’s blessing to make a sequel to The Shining, how his creative process with Flanagan works, and how he views himself as an “audience’s producer.”

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doctor sleep review

With Doctor Sleep, writer/director Mike Flanagan finds himself serving three masters. First, there’s Stanley King, who penned The Shining and its literary sequel, the subject of this new film. Then there’s Stanley Kubrick, whose iconic 1908 film adaptation of The Shining has legions of fans but remains hated by King himself. And then there’s Flanagan himself, the impressive filmmaker behind The Haunting of Hill House, Gerald’s Game, Hush, and more, whose distinctive voice blends chills with honest sentimentality.

I attended an early screening of Doctor Sleep in Estes Park, Colorado, home to the famous Stanley Hotel, the place where a young Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining in the first place. And the real miracle is this: Flanagan has made a movie that is a direct sequel to Kubrick’s film, a loving tribute to King’s original vision, and, most importantly, a proper Mike Flanagan movie through and through.

Shortly before I sat down to interview Flanagan, I learned that he was staying in the famously haunted Room 428 (AKA “The Cowboy Room”)  at the Stanley Hotel, the same room I had stayed in prior to his arrival. Figuring this would be my only chance to talk to a noteworthy horror director about our experiences in the same haunted room, I used that to break the ice.

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Original The Shining Reviews

(Welcome to The Film Historiography, a series that explores the initial reactions to important, iconic, and memorable films.)

“Writing about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which is now playing at the Capitol Theater, is a lot like writing about God or politics. Everybody’s doing it.” – Vivi Mannuzza, The Berkshire Eagle

In the late 1970s, Stanley Kubrick set out to make the “ultimate horror film.” Bringing together his mastery of cinema as an artform – and working from a much-beloved Stephen King novel – Kubrick labored to bring to the screen The Shining, the now-iconic horror film about isolation, domestic violence, and the bad places in the world that call to broken people. Fans flocked to see the film, which diverged early and often from King’s novel; disappointed by the Kubrick’s creative liberties with the novel, The Shining labored as an arthouse curio for years before finally earning its place atop the modern horror canon.

As far as historiographies goes, it’s mostly true. Kubrick may indeed have set out to create the “ultimate horror film” – though that phrase seems more directly attributable to a May 1980 Newsweek article hyping the film than any direct quote from Kubrick himself – but he did so at a time when both horror and Stephen King were capturing the imagination of mainstream audiences everywhere. Hollywood was still adjusting to a new wave of horror films like Halloween (1978), The Amityville Horror (1979), and Alien (1979), and Kubrick’s meticulous shot construction and melodramatic character work seemed at odds with the naturalistic direction of the genre.

These were the threads that regional film critics were running with when The Shining hit theaters in May 1980. While the overarching narrative remains the same – it was underappreciated, it was misunderstood – the reasons for this are rooted in these cultural touchpoints of the era. As we look forward to Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to both Kubrick and King’s versions of The Shining, it’s worth looking back at the critics and the conversations that helped shape the film’s legacy for the next 30 years.  

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