Todd Russell’s review published on Letterboxd:
At the end of this movie the early screening audience started clapping.
Video Review - just left the theater (no spoilers)
Perhaps the best horror movie sequel I've ever seen because it doesn't try to be a significant rehash of what came before, it draws inspiration and excitement from the source material but it isn't a clone.
I hoped I'd like this, because I loved The Shining novel and movie. A young, ferocious Stephen King writes a masterful novel, then Stanley Kubrick takes the novel and draws his own cinematic take, a thing of horror beauty.
It's no wonder it took Stephen King 30+ years to answer the bell. He just doesn't write sequels to his great novels. It's not what he does because he doesn't need to. The man just comes up with another killer story idea and executes. He's a factory of awesome story ideas. Sure, he comes up short, but he hits more out of the park than grounds out.
Enter Doctor Sleep, the novel. The story King didn't think he'd ever write, so he gets the idea and he can't shake it so he sits down and lights up his keyboard. And then it's published and his rabid fans (of which I'm one) gobble it up like a plate of fresh baked cookies and milk. It's sitting at 4.5 / 5 stars on Amazon right now with almost 10,000 reviews. Yes, it was another gem from the wizard of words.
So the film rights are snatched up immediately, as is the case with anything King writes. And Mike Flanagan takes on the gargantuan task of adapting the novel to this film. How did he do?
Tonight, thanks to Fandango's early screening program, I was able to buy a ticket to see it 8 days before it came out. I was nervous that it wouldn't measure up, it would be one of those Stephen King adaptations that sucks.
I dug it and think it might be the best horror movie sequel I've ever seen. Is it better than Kubrick's The Shining?
It doesn't have the claustrophobic atmosphere of being holed up in The Overlook on some chilly snowy night. And Ewan McGregor as an old Danny Torrance (simply "Dan" Torrance) is no Jack Nicholson. The movie is probably at least 30 minutes too long. They had some unnecessary drag that dampened the tension. That's why I took away a star.
But what they got right, oh man, they really got right here. Good characterization. Clear good vs. evil, and not cardboard but depth. The 13-year old girl (Kyleigh Curran) isn't some cheesy depthless kid, she acts, although I'll admit the relationship between her "uncle" seems a bit odd. They even mention how that is not quite right at one point.
So, here I am rating this a strong four stars and trying to think of any other horror movie sequel that was as different and yet the same good as the first (minus the negatives mentioned)? I can't. Maybe Aliens although I consider that to be more sci-fi horror than supernatural horror like this one.
Bottom line? Go see it.
I want to see it again in the theater when it comes out. Best movie I've seen at the theater in 2019 to date. Yes, I liked this better than Joker, so don't shoot me, but it was more of a complete story rather than a pastiche and depressing character drama. Joker will do more business most likely, but this one deserves to do plenty. Time will tell, but I don't care how much money it makes or doesn't make, I had a fun time watching this great story!