‘Doctor Sleep’ Review: ‘The Shining’ Sequel Attempts to Reconcile the Conflicting Views of Kubrick and King
Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 by Chris Evangelista
For all of the horrors he’s conjured up over the decades, Stephen King is really a big softie. Yes, he’s written stories about horrible, nightmarish things happening to innocent souls. But in the end, King is a writer who believes in humanity. He believes in hope. He believes in redemption. Which is probably why he was so damn furious when Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel The Shining into a film in 1980. Kubrick, brilliant artist that he was, was also the complete opposite of King. It’s unfair to claim – though many have – that Kubrick was a misanthrope with a disdain for humanity. But it’s fair to say that Stanley Kubrick’s movies were, all in all, unsentimental – an attitude that King has never ascribed to.
With all of this in mind, Mike Flanagan was facing an uphill battle when it came to adapting Doctor Sleep, King’s own sequel to The Shining, published in 2013. King’s Shining and Kubrick’s Shining share a basic framework, and several similar elements. But they’re vastly different works. And King’s Doctor Sleep is a sequel to his novel – not Kubrick’s film. What was Flanagan to do? Ignore one of the most talked-about horror movies of all time and stick with King’s text? Jettison King’s prose to remain true to Kubrick? Or find some sort of middle ground? With Doctor Sleep, Flanagan has opted for the third option. But can the diametrically opposed viewpoints of King and Kubrick truly inhabit the same space?