Doctor Sleep (2019) – Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Released: 7th November
Seen: 3rd November (Advance Screening)

In 1977, Stephen King released his third novel. The Shining told the tale of Jack Torrence, an alcoholic in recovery who takes a job as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. While he’s taking care of that hotel a bunch of ghosts basically push Jack off the wagon of sobriety and send him insane, leading to him trying to kill his wife and child. That child, Danny, has a special telepathic power that gives the book its title. The book went on to be a massive success, effectively confirming that Stephen King was the king of the horror novel and was such a huge hit that it wasn’t long before it was adapted into a film that is widely considered one of the best horror films of all time.

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In the Tall Grass (2019) – Hey You Kids, Get Out Of My Lawn!

Released: 4th October
Seen: 5th October

Stephen King is a master of taking things that aren’t normally scary and making them terrifying. Puppies, classic cars, a cell phone, he’s taken them and twisted them into the stuff of nightmares. In 2012, Stephen collaborated with his son Joe Hill for a short story called In the Tall Grass, because now Stephen wants us to be scared of lawns. One of these days he’s going to make a film about a killer lamp and then someone will make a movie about it and I’ll end up enjoying that almost as much as I enjoyed this film.

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It: Chapter Two (2019) – Clowning Around

Released: 5th September
Seen: 4th September (Advance Screening)

In 2017, the film It came out in cinemas to wide praise. It was shocking, horrifying, a terrific adaptation of one of Stephen King’s most beloved novels. It was proof that this story could be done better than it had been with the 90s miniseries and it was one of the most terrifying films in recent memory. I loved that film so much that I put it at number five on my best-of list for 2017 and I sometimes wonder if maybe it should’ve been higher because it was just that great. The first film did one thing perfectly, it simply told the story of the main characters from when they were children and left the adult stuff for the sequel. It allowed the film to feel complete and gave it a fantastic tone, making it a story of childhood fears and the pain of adolescence. This movie had the impossible task of not only matching that terrifying tone but elevating it while also introducing the adult versions of the main cast. It had to carry on the story of the Losers’ Club and show us just how much more terrifying Pennywise the clown could be with the child safety taken off him… there’s a reason this sounds like an impossible task and it’s not one that this film managed to completely achieve, though it did do some pretty great things.

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Pet Sematary (2019) – Sometimes Dead Isn’t Better

Released: 4th April
Seen: 3rd April (Advanced Screening)

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Picture it. Hollywood, 1989. The film Pet Sematary, based on the 1983 Stephen King novel of the same name, was released to cinemas to some serious aplomb. Getting really great critical reviews and slamming the box office, it’s currently the 5th highest earning Stephen King adaptation before you account for inflation (after inflation it gets to 6th). It’s a genuine masterpiece of horror that leans more on the concepts than actual scares and lets the situation itself be where the horror comes from. With genuinely great performances by most of the cast (let’s just pretend the lead actor isn’t in this discussion), it’s a film that you absolutely need to see because it’s a genuine heart stopper… and because knowing about what happens in the original actually makes this movie have a much more powerful effect on you as an audience member.

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