ArtistryArtisan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mike Flanagan's 'Doctor Sleep,' released on October 31, 2019, and inspired by Stephen King's work, stands as a compelling cinematic endeavor. However, it can't escape the towering shadow of its predecessor, Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining.' As the Denver Post aptly noted, 'Doctor Sleep' makes a convincing case for its own greatness, but it remains tethered to the monumental legacy of 'The Shining,' a film often regarded as one of the greatest in cinematic history.
'The Shining' is an unparalleled masterpiece, an unsettling journey that feels like having one's leg slowly sawed off, and 'Doctor Sleep' is undeniably distinct from that realm.
If it were intended as a homage to Kubrick's magnum opus, then a more overt manifestation of what made 'The Shining' so extraordinary would have been welcome. 'The Shining' was characterized by long, unbroken camera angles that heightened tension, a hotel that defied spatial logic and seemed to have a life of its own, and themes so subtle that they continue to captivate audiences four decades later. While 'Doctor Sleep' features some intriguing easter eggs, they lack the connectivity to a grander narrative and feel more like isolated nods.
In the realm of craftsmanship, 'Doctor Sleep' doesn't exude the same mastery and meticulousness that defined its predecessor. It offers moments of horror, but they don't reach the same heights. There's an attempt to replicate the fear that the Overlook Hotel once instilled, but the 'run-down, dark Overlook Hotel' doesn't evoke the same chilling atmosphere. It entertains, but it doesn't entirely engross.
One cannot help but feel that this film was crafted to leverage the Kubrick name rather than to serve as a sincere homage to it. 'Doctor Sleep' undeniably has merits, particularly in its spiritual parallels, but it falls short in replicating the craftsmanship, artistry, and enigmatic storytelling that made 'The Shining' an enduring classic.
Production design 3/5