doctor sleep
Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep. Source: movieweb.com

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that a Doctor Sleep adaptation was in the works.

Doctor Sleep (published in 2013) is Stephen King’s sequel to his beloved 1977 novel The Shining and follows Dan Torrance several decades after the Overlook Hotel incident. Now an adult, he struggles to recover from his childhood trauma before he meets Abra Stone, a twelve year old girl with the same ‘shine’ that Danny had.

When a cannibalistic cult begins hunting down kids like her, Dan must find it in himself to help her (and him) survive.

I’m quite a big fan of the book.

In fact, I might even go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite books of all time. And with acclaimed director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Gerald’s Game) helming the reins, I’m very optimistic to see this story play out on the big screen.

Mike Flanagan on the set of Hush. Source: Slash Film

I do have to state however that Doctor Sleep is quite different to The Shining in terms of genre.

Unlike its predecessor, Doctor Sleep focuses more on the psychological aftermath from the Overlook Hotel and its plot is more along the lines of a fast-paced thriller. It does have a few creepy moments in the book, but for the most part, it is more or less a thriller.

I’m very interested to see in which direction they take the Doctor Sleep adaptation, especially in relation to Kubrick’s The Shining.

Stephen King has always been very vocal about his hatred for Kubrick’s movie. His main complaint resides with the way Kubrick developed his characters, in particular how they seemed rather two-dimensional. For example, he finds the downhill spiral of Jack Torrance to be rather abrupt and undeveloped. King hated it so much, in fact, that he even went on to make his own remake/adaptation of his own novel, the 1997 TV mini-series The Shining.

People online have been speculating lately as to what this new Doctor Sleep movie will be connected to. Is it a sequel to Kubrick’s famous 1980 The Shining? Or perhaps it’s a direct, stand-alone adaptation to the book?

Seeing as though the movie and the book have different endings, it will be interesting to see how the film will play out. It wouldn’t be too challenging to tweak a few story arcs so that it works as a sequel to Kubrick’s film.

Kubrick’s cult-classic 1980’s adaptation of The Shining. Source: Mental Floss

My biggest concern, however, has to be with its connection to The Shining as well.

Kubrick’s film has been regarded as one of the most masterful and acclaimed horror movies of all time, and as such the new sequel will always be compared to the original. How well did it work as a sequel? Does it hold up to the legacy of these iconic characters?

I really enjoyed King’s novel. He took one of the characters and went in a completely different direction from the psychological horror genre. It has elements and themes of childhood trauma and how Dan has to overcome his struggles, but at its core it has a vastly different plot than The Shining. I can’t imagine the pressure he must’ve felt writing a sequel to one of his most famous books, but I really think he did a great job (as can be expected of Stephen King himself). I think I might actually like Doctor Sleep more than The Shining.

It’s a great stand-alone story, I really hope they don’t rely on overly excessive references to its predecessor.

A lot of sequels and reboots these days have a problem of excessively throwing easter eggs in audience’s faces. I guess there’s a point when fan service goes above and beyond, which really detracts from the story they’re trying to tell.

Regardless, I’m rather optimistic. Stephen King movies have often been either a hit or a miss, ranging from cult-classics like The Shawshank Redemption to hilariously awful atrocities like Sleepwalkers. But we’ve been getting a slate of great King movies lately, with the likes of Gerald’s Game, IT (2017) and 1922. And with Mike Flanagan bringing his own flair and expertise, I can’t wait to see Doctor Sleep hit theatres and become a cult-classic for years to come.

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