Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep,” the film adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining,” is a “tremendous achievement” and a “worthy successor to ‘The Shining,'” critics say.
“[It’s] among the best Stephen King adaptations ever,” CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg wrote,” while Daily Mirror’s Chris Hunneysett called it “thrilling and accomplished.”
“Like a servant to two masters, ‘Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep’ wants both Stephen King and fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film of his book ‘The Shining’ to be happy,” he wrote. “But sadly, it isn’t enough of its own chilling entity to have much impact.”
The film adaptation of Stephen King’s famous book “Doctor Sleep” stars McGregor as Danny Torrance, 40 years after the events of “The Shining.” Danny, plagued by the memories of the Overlook hotel and his own alcohol abuse issues, meets Abra (Curran), who has the same gift he does. At the same time, a cult called The True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Ferguson) is looking for new children to kidnap. Flanagan also wrote the screenplay.
See below for the eight best reviews.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting:
“The sheer overwhelming gall it must take to direct a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ – as vaunted a horror masterpiece as any committed to celluloid – is probably only measurable in tonnage. But not only did Mike Flanagan pull it off, he’s made a masterfully horrifying motion picture in its own right. ‘Doctor Sleep’ is a stunning and frightening film about trauma and substance abuse, it’s a worthy successor to ‘The Shining,’ and as if that weren’t enough, it’s also a complex work of thoughtful film criticism.”
Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com:
“The film could have benefited from a pair of scissors being taken to some of its run time or a bit more of an engaging opening hour. Still, these things don’t prevent ‘Doctor Sleep’ from sticking the landing in a beautifully terrifying form. The third act is where the film especially shines, pitting McGregor, Curran, and Ferguson into joint efforts and paying tremendous homage to a film that changed the genre. Perhaps most importantly, Flanagan managed to make a really good movie that is both loyal to Kubrick’s film but will also satisfy King in its faithfulness to his novel.”
Sarah Musnicky, Vital Thrills:
“Once the film reaches that pivotal transitional point between the first and second acts, the action ramps up and we quickly learn how urgent it is to see the film to its end. If only so that we may be able to continue to watch the performances given by the actors onscreen and to watch ourselves fall hopelessly in love with newcomer Kyliegh Curran’s Abra and Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat.”
Brian Truitt, USA Today:
“It’s nothing to go channeling your inner Jack Nicholson and chopping through doors. But Flanagan’s ‘Doctor Sleep’ respects both King’s and Kubrick’s visions while letting a rising horror master go his own way, too.”
Chris Hunneysett, Daily Mirror:
“Lacking Kubrick’s icy intellectual glare, ‘Doctor Sleep is not a masterpiece, but it is thrilling and accomplished, which is far more than we could have hoped for or expected.”
Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm:
“Many filmmakers have adapted Stephen King, and a large amount of them neglect to zero in on what it is that makes the Master of Horror’s work so special: his compassion. Unflinching, unapologetic compassion that shines through all the cold, violent darkness. Mike Flanagan understands that, and so does ‘Doctor Sleep.’ And as a result of this, ‘Doctor Sleep’ shines on.”
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend:
“What it’s able to accomplish from a legacy standpoint is breathtaking, and it delivers intelligent storytelling, stunning photography, phenomenal performances, and also one of the most disturbing sequences in recent memory. It’s a tremendous achievement, and among the best Stephen King adaptations ever.”
Germain Lussier, iO9:
“Those minor knocks aside, ‘Doctor Sleep’ tells a complex, interesting story, filled with even more dynamic characters, set in a rich world that surprises as much as it strokes your nostalgia. No, it’s not as strong as ‘The Shining,’ but you can say that about basically every single movie ever made. Instead, ‘Doctor Sleep’ carves out its own niche. One of wonder, tension, and satisfaction. We think you’ll like it.
All 44 Stephen King Movies, Ranked Worst to Best (Photos)
Where does “Doctor Sleep” place among the many big-screen adaptations of the horror master’s work?
Stephen King isn't just an author by this point: He's an institution, a legacy of classic horror stories that capture our imaginations, fuel our nightmares, and speak -- when he's at his best -- to our shared experiences as flawed, emotional beings. The best King stories scare so many of us that we all feel connected, and even the worst are usually pretty fun.
King's books and short stories quickly became hit movies, many of them celebrated in their time, and some flopped so hard that hardly anybody remembers them. Cataloguing every adaptation might be a fool's errand, so we made some tough choices and decided to focus only on his theatrical releases.
And even then, there are so many King adaptations that it gets tricky. The sequels to King's work rarely have anything to do with the source material, so they're all disqualified (even though some, like Larry Cohen's prescient anti-fascist monster drama "A Return to Salem's Lot," are genuinely interesting). We also cut King some slack and removed "The Lawnmower Man" from our watch list, since he fought to have his own name removed from the film and won.
(There are also some adaptations that are simply difficult to find in America, like the Indian adaptions of "Misery" and "Quitter's, Inc." -- "Julie Ganapathi" and "No Smoking" -- but we tried. We promise we tried.)
Even with all those caveats we felt one particular film deserved a quasi-official, honorable mention. Before we rank into every theatrically-released Stephen King adaptation let's give out one honorable mention...