Mike Flanagan’s ‘Doctor Sleep’ Is a ‘Tremendous Achievement,’ and 7 Other Shining Reviews

Other critics call it “thrilling and accomplished” and a “worthy successor to ‘The Shining'”

Doctor Sleep
Jessica Miglio/Warner Bros.

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.”

‘Doctor Sleep’ is a stunning and frightening film about trauma and substance abuse, it’s a worthy successor to ‘The Shining,’” added Bloody Disgusting’s William Bibbiani. Overall, critics seem to agree that the beginning is a slow burn, but the third act makes it worthwhile.

The film, starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and Kyliegh Curran, currently holds a score of 78 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. TheWrap’s own film critic, Robert Abele, didn’t agree with all the praise.

“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.