That Stephen King has never been a fan of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is nothing new - it's the sort of thing you learn on day one in Film Nerd boot camp - but the release of Mike Flanagan's Doctor Sleep has brought that ol' chestnut back out of storage, leading to a fair amount of recent chatter regarding King, the various adaptations of his work, and indeed Stanley Kubrick's take on that iconic novel (That conversation isn't new, either, but we have it every few years, anyway, just as we'll have the "Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" conversation again next month).
And guess who's hopped into the fray this time? No, not Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick passed away in 1999 and is therefore unavailable to comment on the release of Doctor Sleep. But Stephen King's around, and guess what? Not only does he love Flanagan's film (based on King's Shining sequel of the same name), but he thinks it partially "redeems" Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining in the process.
Says King, in a new interview with EW:
“I read the script to this one very, very carefully. Because obviously I wanted to do a good job with the sequel, because people knew the book The Shining, and I thought, I don’t want to screw this up. Mike Flanagan, I’ve enjoyed all his movies, and I’ve worked with him before on Gerald’s Game. So, I read the script very, very carefully and I said to myself, ‘Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here.”
He goes on to say:
“I don’t want to get into a big argument about how great the Shining film is that Kubrick did or my feelings about it. All I can say is, Mike took my material, he created a terrific story, people who have seen this movie flip for it, and I flipped for it, too. Because he managed to take my novel of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, and somehow weld it seamlessly to the Kubrick version of The Shining, the movie. So, yeah, I liked it a lot.”
Let's set aside how we feel about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining for just a second to focus on the following: how fucking hyped do you think Mike Flanagan is right now? You grow up watching horror movies. You end up getting to make your own horror movies. You end up working with Stephen King himself on not one but two of those movies, and then the dude says you've partially redeemed one of his least-favorite adaptations of his own work? Just imagine what that must feel like. Did Mike Flanagan instantly die upon hearing this news? I reached out, via Twitter, to find out:
Congratulations to Mike Flanagan on his continued existence!
Now, as for King's praise and this thing about Doctor Sleep "redeeming" The Shining: King's known for layering on the praise whenever a new adaptation of his work is hitting theaters (I personally saw him intro, and fawn over, a screening of The Dark Tower mere weeks before he was openly talking about where they'd gone wrong with that one), but his comments are right in line with what most critics are saying about Flanagan's sequel. And, hey, if Doctor Sleep brings Stephen King just a little bit closer to enjoying The Shining as much as the rest of us, who could complain? Welcome to the club, Stephen King. Literally everyone is here.
Doctor Sleep lands in theaters this Friday.