Spoiler Room: Doctor Sleep

Whether it’s due to a unique plot twist or some controversial subject matter that deserves further exploration, the Spoiler Room provides a place for our authors, and you readers, to discuss a film’s details outside of our regular spoiler-free reviews. 

NOTE: This Spoiler Room also discusses the ending of The Shining, both the adaptation and Stephen King’s novel.

Stephen King hated Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He described it as a poor adaptation, and though the film is still a classic in its own right, he was right. Whereas Kubrick’s version of the story made Jack a monster from the get-go, King’s 1977 novel portrayed him as more of a victim of the hotel’s supernatural force and his own alcoholism (which is barely featured in the film). Kubrick also abandoned the (literally) explosive climax of the novel, one of King’s best endings.

Mike Flanagan, who adapted Gerald’s Game relatively faithfully (including the abysmal ending), was tasked with making Doctor Sleep work both as an adaptation of King’s novel as well as a fitting sequel to the very different cinematic version of The Shining. He takes it a step further by essentially adapting the original ending of The Shining, giving King fans the ending they never got to see. Instead of sticking with King’s (characteristically lackluster) finale in Doctor Sleep, he has Dan return to the Overlook and deal with his past head-on, eventually culminating in the boiler room, where Dan struggles to fight off possession and sacrifices himself in a fiery blaze. In a brilliant and unexpected move that sent chills up my spine, Flanagan gives Dan the same honorable death that took his father, Jack, in the first novel. 

What did you think of Doctor Sleep? Does it live up to Kubrick’s vision and/or King’s novels? Let us know in the comments!

Spoiler Room

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