This Friday, theaters around the globe will take a fresh dive into Stephen King's The Shining via the new prequel movie, Doctor Sleep. Ahead of its theatrical release, the critic reviews have started to pour in, but the verdict seems divided on whether the movie delivers the impact of the original.
Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGreggor as Danny Torrance and is set 40 years on from his haunting stay in the Overlook Hotel. Although he's still deeply traumatized, he's managed to find some semblance of peace — until a young girl named Abra seeks him out and turns his normality into another nightmare. Watch the trailer below.
While the trailer certainly delivers The Shining like thrills, critics can't seem to agree on whether that's the case throughout the whole movie. Some say it's a stunning, fright-filled adventure, others feel it's "meek" and "cumbersome" by comparison.
Discover what the top film critics are saying about Doctor Sleep below, before the movie lands in theaters November 8.
It's stunning and frightening
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 ... It may not keep you up at night wondering what each strange noise is, but it may keep you up at night marveling at how it felt, what it all means… and whether The Shining will ever again be the same.
So much fresh horror
"The Overlook Hotel is still plenty creepy, as is the crusty naked ghost lady in Room 217. But the adaptation of Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is more likely to keep you awake at night with the fresher stuff than the retreads ... Flanagan's Doctor Sleep respects both King's and Kubrick's visions while letting a rising horror master go his own way, too."
"Where so much horror cinema wields the sledgehammer, Flanagan consistently applies a scalpel. His work here is notable for its visual control, its refreshing dearth of jump scares and the delicate filigree of its world building."
- LA Times
It's a fun return to the Overlook Hotel
"The climax is eerie and satisfying. This sequel to The Shining may register, in the end, as a long footnote, but it makes you glad that you got to play in that sinister funhouse again."
It gives us something different
"It’s no The Shining, but maybe that is just another way of saying that it is something different. After all, once we have confronted our unresolved feelings about the past, we all, like Dan, need to move on. This finely-crafted, often affecting film points not necessarily to another sequel, but to a future where the Overlook and its eerie occupants have been frozen in time and locked away, forever and ever and ever."
It lacks the impact of 'The Shining'
"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. But sadly, it isn’t enough of its own chilling entity to have much impact."
- The Wrap
"It feels more like a theme-park experience than an actual movie, deploying the 1980 horror classic’s butchered twin sisters and a blood-gushing elevator on cue, but without any purpose. You could call it fan service, if the service is to teach fans that mimicking Stanley Kubrick’s chilly elegance—and even reshooting scenes from the original film with lookalike actors, a crime bordering on sacrilege—doesn’t make your take nearly as scary."
- Time Out
"After a long, long series of pointless narrative detours, we find ourselves back in the ruined Overlook hotel, and there’s a frisson there, undoubtedly – especially when we see the hole in the wall made by Torrance’s axe as he shouted “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” But it is almost cancelled out by the realization that everything before it has been a bit redundant. Despite some big moments, this seems cumbersome and unnecessary: a dimming of the original."
Serves as a reminder of why the OG was so great
"The Shining didn’t need Doctor Sleep, but it does provide a reminder of why King and Kubrick remain among the most appealing mainstream storytellers of their generations. Any attempt to resurrect their work is bound to look meek by comparison, but it’s a welcome reminder of everything that made “The Shining” — both versions — so worthwhile in the first place."
The acting saves it
"It doesn’t have Jack Nicholson, Stanley Kubrick or even much of the Overlook Hotel, but Rebecca Ferguson and other good actors provide some shine of their own in Doctor Sleep, a drawn-out and seldom pulse-quickening follow-up to The Shining that still has enough going on to forestall any audience slumber."