'The Shining' sequel 'Doctor Sleep' lands to mixed reviews

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Doctor Sleep (Credit: Warner Bros)

When the benchmark is as high as The Shining, roundly viewed as one of the best horror movies ever made, anything approaching it should do so with caution.

Stephen King published his sequel to his original 1977 novel in 2013, which picked up young Danny Torrance's life in his troubled adulthood.

It was well received, and a movie adaptation was, of course, inevitable, with Ewan McGregor cast as Danny, the boy who saw all manner of horrors at the Overlook Hotel.

Read more: Rebecca Ferguson on potential Doctor Sleep sequel

Directed by Mike Flanagan, who created The Haunting of Hill House for Netflix, it seems it's been a valiant effort to bring the new book to the screen, but entirely successful.

The Spectator has called it 'Scooby Doo with better CGI'.

Writes The Wrap: “A flat Frankenstein of a fright flick that stops and starts with frustrating regularity as it tries to memorialize the horror maestro's newer story elements while tipping a filmic hat to what the late cinema god etched into our brains.”

(Credit: Warner Bros)

Entertainment Weekly reckon: “Doctor Sleep aims for redemption - it's Feel-Good Horror - but the scary hotel is just a scary hotel now. And not even so scary, when you've seen it all before.”

In a two-star notice from The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw writes: “Despite some big moments, this seems cumbersome and unnecessary: a dimming of the original.”

The Financial Times also notes: “It's not a good verdict on a brand new Stephen King-based horror movie that the only real fun we have is in re-experiencing bits from its 40-year-old predecessor.”

Says Time Out: “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 as scary.”

(Credit: Warner Bros)

Adds Screen International: “This somber, often absorbing follow-up to The Shining only occasionally mines the rich thematic terrain at the story's core. It's a just-good-enough sequel that doesn't entirely live up to its potential.”

But it does have its fans.

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“It's nothing to go channeling your inner Jack Nicholson and chopping through doors. But Flanagan's Doctor Sleep respects both King's and Kubrick's visions while letting a rising horror master go his own way, too,” reckons USA Today.

Adds the Daily Telegraph: “Flanagan's real coup is taking us on an imaginative ride, making head-spinning sallies through space, and not feeling cramped by a single source of inspiration but embracing the lot.”

Writes Empire: “Anyone expecting a straightforward Shining sequel will be disappointed. This isn't a gruelling exercise in pure horror. It's odder and more contemplative, but worth checking in.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Mirror notes the movie's 'hypnotic creepiness with crowd-pleasing gore and violence'.

Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran and Carl Lumbly, it's out now across the UK.