Despite the ambiguity of that New Year’s Eve photo, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining didn’t feel like it left much unsaid. King famously disliked the movie, though he might have been the only one. When he wrote a sequel to his novel, picking up the story of Danny Torrence years later, and adding to the mythology by introducing others with psychokinetic abilities, it was inevitable that someone would make a movie (for better and worse, that’s just how it goes with King novels). Mike Flanagan had already made a bit of a name for himself with confident thrillers like Absentia, Hush, and Oculus, and he brought that style and solid craftsmanship to Doctor Sleep. But how to solve the King/Kubrick problem? A straight adaptation of the novel would mean diverging significantly from Kubrick’s film…at least as well known and loved as the original novel.
The movie has it both ways, respecting the beats of the book while also working as a sequel to the 1980 film and doing it all relatively seamlessly. The Overlook Hotel, for example, was destroyed long ago on the page, but survived Kubrick’s film, and so we get to revisit those wildly memorable set designs. In that way, and aside from being an enjoyable supernatural horror film in its own right, it represents something of a truce between King’s intentions and Kubrick’s undeniable impact.
Where to stream: HBO Max, Prime Video, Hulu