The Shining / Doctor Sleep

D: Stanley Kubrick
Warner Bros. (Stanley Kubrick)
UK/USA 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1980
146 mins


W: Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: John Alcott
Ed: Ray Lovejoy
Mus: Bela Bartok & Wendy Carlos
PD: Roy Walker
Cos: Milena Canonero

Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrance), Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrance), Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrance), Scatman Crothers (Halloran), Barry Nelson (Ullman), Philip Stone (Grady), Joseph Turkel (Lloyd)

Stanley Kubrick's ambiguous interpretation of Stephen King's classic novel is itself very much open to interpretation from the audience, failing to explain itself and leaving many questions unanswered. Still, this only adds to atmospheric creepiness and mystery of the film, and though it wasn't quite appreciated when it was first released, its reputation has seen named amongst the finest horror films of all time.
Writer Jack Torrance (Nicholson) takes a caretaker job at an off-season hotel with his wife and young, psychic son, but the secluded location affects his mental stability and he begins to witness strange occurrances, including ghostly figures, who only add to his deranged state and convince him to murder his family.
Kubrick's obsessively-compulsive directorial style is well documented, as is his gruelling shoot on this film, but it's his vision, so he can make the film however he wants and it's his style of filmmaking which makes up for the fact that only a small portion of the events in the book were used in this adaptation.
There are many internet theories that the film is an allegory for Kubrick filming the Apollo 11 moon landings, which itself is completely open to interpretation.
Stephen King is also known to have been disappointed with this adaptation, calling it a "luxury car with no engine", to which he may have a point, but there's no escaping the fact that the movie has a huge iconic status, and still referenced in popular culture over 30 years later.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Dare to go back
Dare to go back


D: Mike Flanagan

Warner Bros/Intrepid/Vertigo (Jon Berg & Trevor Macy)

USA 🇺🇸 2019

152 mins


W: Mike Flanagan [based on the novel by Stephen King]

DP: Michael Fimognari

Ed: Mike Flanagan

Mus: The Newton Brothers

Ewan McGregor (Dan Torrance), Rebecca Ferguson (Rose the Hat), Kyliegh Cuttan (Abra Stone), Cliff Curtis (Billy Freeman), Carl Lumbly (Dick Hallorann), Zahn McClarnon (Crow Daddy), Emily Alyn Lind (Snakebite Andi)

A sequel to The Shining, though it's more a psychological study of the supernatural gift that is bestowed upon people like Dan Torrance, the child in the original Shining, now an adult still haunted and trying to escape his past.

It's quite well documented that novelist Stephen King was unhappy with Stanley Kubrick's treatment of his material for the 1980 film of The Shining, though the film has amassed a huge following, some of whom would call it the best horror film ever made. It's a difficult act to follow, for sure, but King's continuation of the story focuses more on an individual coping with their abilities, much akin to Carrie White in Carrie and John Smith in The Dead Zone. Settling down in a small New England community, Dan Torrance finds that his gift is a comfort to the elderly at an old folks home where he works as an intern, but he's able to make a connection with them in their final moments, and they dub him Doctor Sleep because of this.

Meanwhile, a cult led by Rose the Hat, a mysterious witch (of sorts), travel the country in search of others who have the gift of Shining, in order to consume their life force and grow even more powerful. Both Dan and Rose become aware of Abra Stone, who seems to hold a more powerful version of the same gift, and both seek her for opposing reasons.

Mike Flanagan does an excellent job adapting King's work as well as juggling the expectations of those who are fans of Kubrick's movie, for what is a slow-burning psychological thriller which builds tension perfectly, absent of jump scares in favour of an unsettling atmosphere which can be far more terrifying.

Though it's important to have watched (or even read) the first story, it only really comes into play in the film's third and final act, which culminates at the now-abandoned Overlook Hotel. 

Personally, I didn't think this was as good as The Shining, but it didn't have to be. It's still a far better sequel than what was to be expected and an excellent example of how horror can work without the tropes which become nothing but a poor cliché for the genre.  Once again, not everything is explained perfectly, which is fine by me, since I love films which encourage discourse and debate, and this is another film which will be discussed for hours by those who watch it.


Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep
Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep