Doctor Sleep premiered in theaters in November, and even though it has received a rather mellow response from audiences, it is undeniably one of the best Stephen King adaptations out there. Not only did it accomplish the difficult task of creating a sequel to a film made in 1980, it did so without compromising the vision of the book it is based on.
However, if you're still on the fence about whether or not it is a worthy sequel to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, we're here to make the debate a tad more difficult. After all, it's hard to decide when the movie feels so different from the original film, but it's obvious how much inspiration it took from it. Read on to see if you can decide for yourself.
10 Not Worthy: No Jack Nicholson
No one can argue that Jack Nicholson was the shining star of The Shining. ("Shining" star of The Shining? Get it?) His personality and force of character while on screen engaged audiences in a such a way that his absence would have noticeably detracted from the film. And while Doctor Sleep tells its own story and has fantastic actors in its character roles, it does not have a tour de force like Jack Nicholson. This hole in character magnetism makes the movie feel just an inch shy of a true Shining sequel.
9 Worthy: Improves The Portrayal Of The "Shine"
The Shining might be considered a cinematic classic, but given when it was made, not many of its effects have aged well. One of the major improvements Doctor Sleep made to the universe is how the "Shine" is portrayed. People with the "Shine" have extra mental abilities, varying from persuasion to telekinesis.
The manner in which Doctor Sleep showed how the "Shine" works is truly astounding. It's symbolic, but it never confuses the audiences as to what is going on. When Abra traps Rose the Hat in her mental space, you know exactly what's going on without anything needing to be stated.
8 Not Worthy: It Stops Being A Horror Film
The initial moments of Doctor Sleep are creepy, but as the film winds its way to its conclusion, the story beats stop centering around horror. It almost becomes a straight-up adventure/thriller. The Shining, on the other hand, never lets up with an increasing sense of horror and dread. When the climax of the original occurs, it brings with it such a frenzy of terror that you can't escape the fact that you're watching a horror film. So while Doctor Sleep is by no means a bad movie, it doesn't feel like a sequel to The Shining in terms of horror.
7 Worthy: Introduces The True Knot
A definite step in the right direction for Doctor Sleep is the introduction of the True Knot. The True Knot is a group of people who also have the "Shine" like Danny Torrance, but they use it to extend their lives. They find people who have the "Shine" as well, trap them, and then torture them so that when they die, the energy from their "Shine" is released.
Once the "Shine" is released, the True Knot consume it. The manner in which the group swarms over the deceased body of their victim is downright terrifying. Having them be antagonists in this film allows Doctor Sleep to feel like a continuation and expansion of the original instead of just being a rehash.
6 Not Worthy: Does Not Have Kubrick's Mind Behind It
It's not Doctor Sleep's fault that it does not have the visionary director, Stanley Kubrick behind it. Mike Flanagan does a fantastic job of bringing the story to the big screen. But there is no denying the power of Kubrick. Kubrick had a style that was apparent in every single one of his films. It's the reason why Kubrick has become a household name when it comes to visionary directors, right alongside people like Steven Spielberg. Without Stanley Kubrick helming Doctor Sleep, there is no way for the movie to feel like a true sequel since it does not possess Kubrick's signature flair.
5 Worthy: Pays Homage To The Original's Shots And Score
Just by watching Doctor Sleep's trailer, you can immediately tell how much inspiration it took from The Shining. The shots of Danny in the Overlook, the soundtrack, and the nightmares that haunt the film all pay homage to Kubrick's original. As a matter of fact, when Danny and Abra return to the Overlook, the tracking shot that takes us there is meant to recall the opening scenes from The Shining.
Though it's supposed to be an ominous moment, fans of the first film will feel a delicious sense of triumphant nostalgia. And to make things even better, Doctor Sleep perfectly balances its nods to the original while maintaining its own course.
4 Not Worthy: Lessens The Mystery Of The Overlook Hotel
The mysteries of the Overlook Hotel have puzzled fans of The Shining for years. Is it a sentient environment? Is it purely a hot spot for ghostly activity thanks to a few horrendous acts that occurred there? Was Jack Torrance really there in the 1920s? That sense of mystery is lessened in Doctor Sleep. The Overlook just becomes a place from Danny's past, its unanswered questions largely left unexplored. This new movie simultaneously manages to diminish the mystery of the hotel while still leaving us clueless as to what happened in the place to make it so hungry for some "Shine."
3 Worthy: Gives Danny Torrance The Ending He Deserves
In The Shining, Danny Torrance was just a poor kid who became the target of a hotel's malicious intent. (Yes, that sentence does sound strange upon rereading it.) Even as he and his mother escaped, you couldn't help feeling terrible about the trauma Danny endured. Doctor Sleep gives Danny the closure that some viewers might have wanted for him. Not only is he reconciled with his past at the Overlook, Danny becomes better acquainted with the "Shining" he tried so hard to ignore. It gives him purpose as he becomes a kind of mentor to the young Abra.
2 Not Worthy: Loses The Sense Of Isolation
One of the most phenomenal aspects of The Shining was that terrible sense of isolation you got while watching it. It's just Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance in this giant hotel for those cold winter months. And since the Overlook is shown to viewers frequently in those beginning scenes, the large spaces become familiar to you. You no longer explore the rooms' features when you're shown them later on. Instead, you look for what could be hiding in them. That sense of isolation is missing from Doctor Sleep because it takes place in various locations, none of which possess the magnitude of the Overlook.
1 Worthy: Successfully Combines King And Kubrick
While some people might not appreciate Doctor Sleep for this, the fact that it combined both Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick's ideas of The Shining makes it a worthy successor to the original story. It's a well-known fact that King was not initially content with Kubrick's version of The Shining. And if you've read the book, you know why. They're both so different. Doctor Sleep manages to do the impossible by reconciling the two versions into a sequel that contains both Stephen King's magic and Stanley Kubrick's vision.