Stephen King Says Doctor Sleep Film Helped Redeem Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

While Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining might be considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, novelist Stephen King was never shy about his dislike for the film, which was based off his novel of the same name. 

Fast forward to 2019 and director Mike Flanagan has just released his newest film Doctor Sleep which serves as both a sequel to Kubrick’s film and an adaptation of King’s sequel to The Shining, also titled Doctor Sleep. According to King, he liked Flanagan’s adaptation so much that he claimed it “redeems” what he did not like about The Shining

Since its release, King has never hidden his feelings for Kubrick’s movie, stating that the movie largely misses the point of his novel. He claimed in an interview with The Paris Review that Kubrick had “no sense of emotional investment in the family whatsoever” and while the film was pretty to look at, it did not have much substance beyond that. 

“I used to call it a Cadillac with no engine in it. You can’t do anything with it except admire it as sculpture. You’ve taken away its primary purpose, which is to tell a story. The basic difference that tells you all you need to know is the ending. Near the end of the novel, Jack Torrance tells his son that he loves him, and then he blows up with the hotel. It’s a very passionate climax. In Kubrick’s movie, he freezes to death.”

However, that is not the case with Doctor Sleep as King mentioned in another interview with Entertainment Weekly that he made sure to read the script to the movie extra carefully.

“I read the script to this one very, very carefully,. Because obviously I wanted to do a good job with the sequel, because people knew the book The Shining, and I thought, I don’t want to screw this up. Mike Flanagan, I’ve enjoyed all his movies, and I’ve worked with him before on Gerald’s Game. So, I read the script very, very carefully and I said to myself, ‘Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here.”

This might be the highest possible praise for Doctor Sleep that director Mike Flanagan will get as his film has made Stephen King actually like Kubrick’s The Shining more than he ever has. 

Flanagan told Entertainment Weekly that as a huge Stephen King fan, his goal with Doctor Sleep was to “reconcile that gulf of distance between the Kubrick Shining and the King Shining.” It’s clear from King’s statement that he has achieved that. 

“Mike took my material, he created a terrific story, people who have seen this movie flip for it, and I flipped for it, too,” King said. “Because he managed to take my novel of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, and somehow weld it seamlessly to the Kubrick version of The Shining, the movie. So, yeah, I liked it a lot.”

With such high praise, it is little wonder that Flanagan is currently in talks with King to adapt another one of the legendary novelist’s works. Flanagan is known for producing a number of great horror movies and TV series including Oculus, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, and Gerald’s Game, another film he did that is based off a Stephen King novel.