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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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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the haunting of bly manor details

The Haunting of Bly Manor, the second season of The Haunting of Hill House, is taking its main inspiration from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. But according to creator Mike FlanaganScrew will be just one of several Henry James ghost stories Bly Manor will draw from. In fact, Flanagan says that Turn of the Screw is “one of a dozen stories” that the new season will tell.

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doctor sleep review

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?

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doctor sleep featurette

A new Doctor Sleep featurette gives us our best look yet at Mike Flanagan‘s sequel to The Shining. In the video below, go behind-the-scenes of the upcoming film with Flanagan, author Stephen King, and star Ewan McGregor, while also getting new looks at the recreation of the Overlook Hotel, the younger Danny Torrence, Dick Hallorann, and more.

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Doctor Sleep Trailer

Are you ready to return to The Overlook Hotel? Director Stanley Kubrick haunted our dreams with the chilling, thrilling, classic adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved book The Shining. Now, nearly 40 years later, Doctor Sleep will show us what little Danny Torrance is like after having such a traumatic experience in his childhood. All grown up and played by Ewan McGregor, Danny’s past comes back to haunt him, and a new threat emerges. Watch the new Doctor Sleep trailer below for more. Read More »

Mike Flanagan Themes

What if one of the best modern horror filmmakers also had a big, gooey heart? That seems to the case with Mike Flanagan, whose work blends visceral scares with shattering humanism. With The Haunting of Hill House, Gerald’s Game, Hush, and more, Flanagan has proven adept at breaking hearts and eliciting scares in equal measure, something that will surely serve him well with the upcoming Doctor Sleep.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining and follows a grown-up Danny Torrance as he battles his alcoholism and attempts to overcome his childhood trauma. Of course, there are also psychic vampires to deal with, because this is still a thrilling horror story. In other words, it sounds like the right fit for Flanagan.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

While there have been countless adaptations of the work of Stephen King over the years, not all of them are fortunate enough to have both a personal blessing and input from the master of suspense himself. But in the case of the upcoming adaptation of Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, producer Trevor Macy was lucky enough to get both. That’s actually surprising since the film version of Doctor Sleep is drawing a lot of elements from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, which Stephen King famously hated.

Find out all about the Doctor Sleep Stephen King involvement below.

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