Literary adaptations to the big screen, as a rule, are usually a particularly swampy terrain. There are many stories of agreements and disagreements between novelists and filmmakers that, historically, have transcended both inside and outside the Hollywood machinery, being probably one of the most peculiar cases, that of Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'.
Since 1980, countless voices have been raised claiming the title starring Jack Nicholson as one of the great masterpieces of the genre. But among praises more than justified, Stephen King rose as a fierce detractor of the vision that the New York projected on his work, which criticized both its form and its content, defining Kubrick as "a man who thinks too much and feels a very little bit".
These discrepancies, at all unfounded and, to some extent, understandable, are what make even more relevant the immense achievement achieved by Mike Flanagan in the excellent 'Doctor Sleep'. An exquisite symphony of that elegant and content terror that many of us believed in danger of extinction, which achieves practically the impossible: reconcile King and Kubrick by combining the souls of both masters in 150 minutes to frame. Watch it online and see how this amazing work goes.
It is surprising that in less than a decade - if we consider 'Absentia' as his letter of introduction to the specialized public - Flanagan's trajectory has evolved to the point of making him worthy of author status, and allowing him to associate with a personal seal; developed through his recent filmography, perfected in 'The Curse of Hill House' and consolidated in his latest film to date.
'Doctor Sleep' means the reaffirmation of a filmmaker capable of articulating horror stories fleeing the standards of today's industry and large studios; showing a classicism and a sobriety typical of another era - there is no room for jumpscares and volume increases in their delicious conception of the genre - without giving up a formal and narrative sophistication that rounds out what, with the permission of 'Midsommar', is the horror movie of the year, Watch it now and be amazed as we are.
This character study focused on an adult Danny Torrance, struggling with alcoholism and ghosts — never better said — of the past, combines the thematic sensibilities that Flanagan already showed on tapes such as 'Somnia' or 'Oculus', empowering them thanks to the material originated from a Stephen King expert in building human characters and exploring worldly conflicts in exceptional and dark worlds.
The slow and absorbing development of 'Doctor Sleep', which many will see as an impediment to its full enjoyment, is nothing but the fruit of the need to develop their magnetic discourse on death, redemption, and sins inherited from our parents. A gloomy story enriched by a round protagonist and a charismatic villain brand of the King house, played by an immense Rebecca Ferguson, which is revealed as a sort of the feminine reverse of the iconic Randall Flagg of 'Apocalypse'.
Gradually, the feature film leads us to the inevitable: Danny's return to the traumatic past represented by the labyrinthine halls of the Overlook hotel in which the third act of the film is set. A great final betrayal in which Flanagan reverence 'The Shining' of Stanley Kubrick fleeing at all times of the nostalgic commercial claim so fashionable today and taking advantage of the reference to integrate it into the narrative as intelligently as coherently.
Although ultimately it has been built on the genius of its top manager, 'Doctor Sleep' is still the product of three great minds that, without the need to have shared space or time, have made possible a brilliant piece in which the heart of Stephen King, the brain of Stanley Kubrick and the hands of a Mike Flanagan craftsman who has already won a gap between the great names of terror shine.