While decent, ‘Doctor Sleep’ is a snore without reading the orginal books


Juan Diaz

‘Doctor Sleep’ has a 74% Rotten Tomoatoes score, while both Stephen King books earned a four out of five on Goodreads. While considered a classic, ‘The Shining’ was not well recieved upon release.

If the names Sandy Reynolds and Lucy Stone mean nothing to you, then you should walk out of the theater because this is not the movie you were hoping it would be. Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of “Doctor Sleep” does not live up to the hype of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” 

I went into this movie truly hoping to enjoy it. Kubrick’s “The Shining” is one of my favorite movies, and I’m currently reading the original novel by Stephen King. When I heard that news of Flanagan attempting to blend the two, I was excited. 

As I sat down to watch the movie, though, I was disappointed with the miniscule references to The Overlook Hotel, the only location to “The Shining.” I imagined the film would have more of Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) struggling to come to terms with the demons that The Overlook Hotel left with him. “Doctor Sleep” feels like a stand-alone story that does not get interesting until the last ten minutes when the hotel finally makes an appearance. 

Flanagan’s blending of film and novel versions of “The Shining” also meant that “Doctor Sleep” had to change significant parts of the story to fit in this new timeline, leaving out major plot elements. Usually, reading a novel isn’t necessary to enjoy its film adaptation. However, reading both “The Shining” and “Doctor Sleep” would help in understanding what is going on. 

If you’ve ever watched Flanagan’s Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House,” you are probably familiar with the episode “Two Storms.” I was expecting story elements used in the episode to show up in “Doctor Sleep.” This particular episode matches what is currently happening to the family with flashbacks to when they lived in Hill House, a very similarly haunted house to The Overlook Hotel. The episode also switches between the two locations almost seamlessly, moving from funeral home to Hill House as if they are connected by a hallway. 

While I might have some story structure gripes, “Doctor Sleep” was very well done. The cinematography is great. McGregor is a very believable Danny Torrance, Alex Essoe nails Shelly Duval’s voice, and Kyliegn Curran and Rebecca Ferguson are a fantastic pairing. 

Flanagan tried to bring justice to “Dr. Sleep,” but he ultimately fell short trying to live up to the legendary “The Shining.”  It’s hard to follow up one of the greatest directors and storytellers ever and create something that, in comparison, will stand the test of time like Kubrick’s films. “The Shining” is regarded as one of the most influential horror films ever. While it’s hard to see “Doctor Sleep” living up to that title, the film is still worthy of attention. But if you have to wait to stream it after you read both books, I wouldn’t blame you.