Doctor Sleep (2019) and The Shining (1980): Does the sequel win out?

A double review of Doctor Sleep, released this November, and its predecessor, The Shining, released in 1980.


Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) and Dan Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) from The Shining and Doctor Sleep respectively.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep is a sequel to Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic The Shining, but it doesn’t feel like it. This movie doesn’t have the same tone, atmosphere, or chills as its predecessor.

The film follows Danny Torrence (played by Ewan McGregor) as he helps a little girl named Abra who also has the ‘shining’ ability against an evil cult. On paper, it sounds like an intriguing idea with a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, the execution is somewhat botched. The film has pacing issues as well as a lack of focus on its narrative. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have that many scares either.

However, the movie is not without some strengths. It has solid direction and the performances are decent. Also, it expands on what the ‘shining’ ability is capable of. The film even has a rather fitting ending. On the one hand, it’s fine as a movie. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a letdown as a follow-up to The Shining.

I give Doctor Sleep a 6/10 rating.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining is the kind of movie that is sure to keep you up at night. 

In 1980, acclaimed film director, Stanley Kubrick, took a crack at the horror genre and adapted one of Stephen King’s classic novels, The Shining. It centers around Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) and his family, who’ve become the off-season caretakers of the Overlook Hotel. The supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel cause Jack’s sanity to slowly deteriorate, which previously happened to the former owner of the hotel.

Kubrick’s direction is phenomenal and creates an atmospheric setting that is delightfully haunting. The pacing is excellent as well, giving the audience enough time to understand the hotel’s history and witness Jack’s horrific transformation without ever being superfluous. Jack Nicholson gives an enthralling and entertaining performance that is amazing to watch.

With that said, there are a few problems which keep the movie from being a true masterpiece. The editing could’ve been improved, the production design is cheap at times, and Shelley Duvall’s performance as Jack’s wife, Wendy, is a little too over-the-top. 

Even with those flaws, though, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the best horror films of the 1980’s. It may not be the director’s strongest work, but it’s still one he should be proud of. To this day, it boggles my mind that Stephen King hated this adaptation of his book so much. It’s a twisted, spine-tingling flick that will linger in your head for years to come.

I give The Shining a 9/10 rating.