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‘Doctor Sleep’ First Reactions Say the ‘Shining’ Sequel Is the Best Stephen King Film Since ‘Shawshank’

Rave reactions are pouring in online following the long-awaited debut of Flanagan's Stephen King adaptation, "Doctor Sleep."

Doctor Sleep

“Doctor Sleep”

Warner Bros.

First reactions are pouring in for writer/director Mike Flanagan’s Stephen King adaptation “Doctor Sleep,” which Warner Bros. releases on November 8. The film is an adaptation of King’s 2013 novel of the same name, which serves as a sequel to “The Shining,” here following grown-up Danny (Ewan McGregor) in his attempts to build a normal life in the shadow of everything that went down at the Overlook. (To recap: While serving as caretaker at a freaky hotel in the Rockies, his failed-writer father fell off the wagon, became terrorized by ghosts real or imagined, and tried to slaughter his entire family with an axe as if to fulfill some prophecy left behind the last caretaker, whose specter ghoulishly haunts the halls.)

Below, IndieWire has rounded up first impressions of the movie, which also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Carl Lumbly, and Alex Essoe. In the new film, things get complicated for McGregor’s adult Danny when he meets a young girl who shares his psychic gifts while working at a hospice center.

Director Flanagan, who brought a chilly elegance to Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House” series and directed the films “Oculus” and “Hush,” has been slavishly recreating not only the sets from Kubrick’s film, but also its iconic moments — as reported in recent interviews. Flanagan, much like the motley gaggle of overthinkers depicted in the “Shining” documentary “Room 237,” reportedly spent days analyzing and obsessing over every frame of Kubrick’s film in preparation for “Doctor Sleep.”

A tonic for tired times, Flanagan previously said he would honor Kubrick’s lack of jump scares in “Doctor Sleep.” “We used a lot of the lessons that Kubrick taught us about how to do a psychological thriller,” the director said, “in a way that is more about suffocating atmosphere and tension than it ever is about the kind of traditional scares as we understand them today.”

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