Doctor Sleep

So I broke my own rule of not watching movies that are less than 20 years old. Unfortunately, the “Sight and Sound” poll, the same one that caused a shitstorm by listing some movie called “Jeanne Dielman” as the greatest film ever made, also listed The Shining in its top movies.

As a Stanley Kubrick fan, I honestly think that The Shining is one the auteur’s weakest films. But for whatever reasons, it’s gained a massive following. I think it’s a visually interesting film. It also features stunning performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall. But those are only facades. It’s a fundamentally empty and, frankly, aimless film. I can almost see why Stephen King was upset with it.

Yet, strangely, $tephen King agreed to have his novel adapted into a direct sequel to Kubrick’s film.

Does it work?

Mostly, I’d say. I’ve never read Doctor Sleep, but it’s quite apparent where King’s novel ends and where the adaptation to match Kubrick begins. Not that it’s distracting. Director Mike Flanagan makes a pretty seamless transition. BUT, the climax…naturally taking place at the Overlook Hotel…is pretty hit and miss.

The interaction between Danny Torrance and his father could have been A LOT worse, yet it wasn’t entirely successful either. Additionally, I could have done without some of the visual Easter eggs. Despite this, there is some emotional payoff when, as the Overlook is burning down, Danny is “reunited” with his mother.

But the superior parts of the movie were clearly King-inspired. I’m glad Flanagan took his time building up this story by (presumably) trying to be more faithful to the novel. It makes me think that it’s a shame that a more faithful adaptation wasn’t made of The Shining (the problem is that the styles and interests of Kubrick and King couldn’t have been farther apart). Many would probably disagree, but I think Doctor Sleep makes The Shining a better…and more emotionally compelling…movie.

4 thoughts on “Doctor Sleep

  1. I follow that rule myself. I really only watch new movies when my wife or kids ask me to. Have you seen the 90s adaptation of the Shining by serial King adapter/sequel director Mick Garris? It was produced by King and is supposedly much more faithful. I watched it once as a teen and was bored to death. It’s like 4.5 hours long.

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    1. I watched it during its initial run as a kid and I wasn’t impressed. It might hit differently as an adult but I doubt I’ll ever revisit it. But I never heard of Mick Garris until you said something. And holy shit! That dude’s got some hits!

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    1. Kubrick finished strong with Eyes Wide Shut. But his work after A Clockwork Orange isn’t nearly as strong. Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket are far and away his weakest films. Yet, oddly, Sight and Sound put two of those movies in its top 100. That alone should make one question it’s validity

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