EARLY ACCESS REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (no spoilers!) Yes, It’s Better than Joker!

On 10/30/2019 at 7pm, I was able to see Doctor Sleep a week early through Fandango purchase

Waited eagerly until midnight PST to post this. Even though it’s Halloween somewhere in the world, I just wanted to say I posted it on Halloween. Plenty more goodies coming today. I sooooo love Halloween!!!

Thanks to the Fandango Early Access program that is open to anybody, not only film critics and amateur movie reviewers and whatever you want to classify me as (ardent moviegoer? constipated blogger? fan of films?), so long as you purchase a ticket, you can see movies early. The second I learned about this, I went for my wallet. Seriously, I can see one of my five most anticipated movies of the Fall 2019 season early?!?! I’m sooo there.

Doctor Sleep ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Advance movie review for Doctor Sleep

For those who don’t know the history of this movie, author Stephen King had been hounded by fans and his own thoughts to write a sequel to The Shining. He resisted because Stephen King is not known for churning out cash grab sequels. He has done some series work, notably The Dark Tower, but sequels are different. He didn’t just want to cash in on the greatness that was The Shining. unless he had a good story to tell about what happened to young Danny Torrance.

So at the beginning of this decade, King got the idea worked out in his mind and then had to write it down, generating the novel published on September 24, 2013. It currently has almost 10,000 ratings on Amazon with a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. King has rabid fans, but you don’t get 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with that many reviews unless the book is good.

Before seeing Doctor Sleep, I decided intentionally not to re-read (not something I do very often with any work, actually, but have done with a few Stephen King books) or rewatch The Shining. It’s been well over 20 years since I originally watched The Shining (1980) which was Stanley Kubrick’s vision and adaptation. Stephen King was not a fan of Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, The Shining, but everybody else pretty has been. (Rotten Tomatoes: 83% critics / 95% audience, IMDB: 8.4). In fact, there is an awesome set of integral scenes for The Shining in Stephen Spielberg’s Ready Player One.

So, I was going into my screening of Doctor Sleep fairly cold from the past of The Shining. Sure, I remember parts of it, but I didn’t want to freshen up my entire memory of the original movie before seeing the sequel.

I have started reading the novel, Doctor Sleep, but did not finish it — also, intentionally — before seeing the movie. Just didn’t want to ruin the ending of the movie (and therefore won’t know if the book ending and movie ending are different) and/or be caught up in over comparisons of the book and the movie too much in the review.

I am enjoying Doctor Sleep, the novel, but to me it’s not as gripping as The Shining. King’s writing style has evolved over the years. I don’t find his writing as taut as was the first 10-20 years. That isn’t necessarily a knock on him — as he’s clearly still one of the very best at his craft (he will probably go down historically as the best modern day storyteller ever), but I liked more of Stephen King’s writing when he was more laser focused. Books like The Stand, all of his early short story works and the staples: Carrie and, of course, The Shining, Dead Zone, Christine, Pet Sematary (perhaps the scariest book I’ve ever read!) and so on. His storytelling for me started to get headier around the mid 90s. I have read and enjoyed some of his work a lot since then like 11/23/63 (fantastic story, haven’t seen the mini-series on Hulu .. yet).

So, I’m what you would consider a huge fan of all works by Stephen King, but a little more biased to the bulk of his work earlier in his career.

Now that you know the setup for my state of mind and memory of the first film and novel — both which I enjoyed — that sets the stage good for how I felt about the film Doctor Sleep. If you already clicked through and read the text review at Letterboxd, you know the rating and why. Also, I provided a video review (again. no spoilers) of my feelings immediately after leaving the theater.

And now at least I’m compiling this blog post to give my final, final review thoughts. After seeing the movie, after writing the review, after recording the video … what is left for me to say about Doctor Sleep?

I loved it.

It’s going to seem like hyperbole, but it’s quite possibly my favorite horror film sequel that I’ve ever seen. Damn, I want to see it again! When you get the chance in a week to see it, you’re strongly encouraged to do so.

This isn’t a trick, it’s a treat.

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