Early reviews for Doctor Sleep are in, and the consensus seems to be that although director Mike Flanagan’s film, at two and a half hours, is overly long, its cast, particularly Rebecca Ferguson as the villainous Rose the Hat, shines.
In his take on it for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote that “Rebecca Ferguson and other good actors provide some shine of their own in ... a drawn-out and seldom pulse-quickening follow-up to The Shining that still has enough going on to forestall any audience slumber.”
Meanwhile, over at Variety, Owen Gleiberman calls the Ewan McGregor-led sequel to The Shining (Stephen King’s 1977 novel and Stanley Kubrick’s very different 1980 film adaptation) “long and prosaic but also creepy and scary” and “earns its shock waves of emotion.” He also describes Ferguson’s screen presence as “imperial and sensual,” which brings “a note of mesmerizing creepiness” to the film.
“Ferguson is all vicious excellence as Rose, the freakiest weirdo in a hat since Mister Babadook,” writes Brian Truitt, in his three-star review of it for USA Today, adding that McGregor is “great portraying the Shining trauma made real in Dan's grownup existence.”
But not all critics want to come play with adult Danny for 2.5 hours (let alone forever ... and ever ... and ever). Although IndieWire’s Eric Kohn calls McGregor’s portrayal of an all-grown-up (and now recovering alcoholic) Danny Torrance “superb,” he admits in his C+ review that the film, which attempts “an ambitious homage to Kubrick and King,” proves why “the original book and movie never could click.”
Over at Entertainment Weekly, critic Darren Franich is less kind. “Doctor Sleep is a mess,” he declares in his C+ review. “It’s way too long, clashing somber sobriety with loony cheap thrills.”
In his two-star review, Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out New York pulls out the axe, calling Doctor Sleep “an unearned and cringeworthy follow-up to The Shining” that “feels more like a theme-park experience than an actual movie, deploying the 1980 horror classic’s butchered twin sisters and a blood-gushing elevator on cue, but without any purpose.”
Doctor Sleep wakes up in theaters on Nov. 8, but some fans will get to see it on Oct. 31.