Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Under the Blade: Horror Author Matt Serafini Dissects Vinegar Syndrome, Streaming Services, and Doctor Sleep" By Joshua Jabcuga


Under the Blade and Microscope: Wherein author-screenwriter Matt Serafini dissects physical media, standouts of streaming services, and Mike Flanagan’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, with comics writer Josh Jabcuga.

(Note: The following interview was conducted via email, beginning in early November 2019, and wrapping up February 7th, 2020.)

JOSH JABCUGA:

Over on your Twitter account (@MattFini) you encouraged your readers to support Mike Flanagan's film adaptation of the Stephen King novel Doctor Sleep when it had just been released theatrically. One of those tweets struck a chord. Your comments went viral, even catching the attention of Stephen King himself, who then quote-tweeted you. This film had so much going for it, if nothing else than being a sequel to, in my opinion, a classic King novel and a classic horror film. As if the sheer potential wasn't enough, you said: "Flanagan stages an incredible adaptation that somehow bridges TWO legacies from separate mediums. A sprawling, empathic, miracle."

Audiences love King, they love horror in general, and yet this film was criminally overlooked. Do you have any theories as to why?

MATT SERAFINI:

I'm not a box office analyst by any means, but I will say I was genuinely stunned by the performance of Doctor Sleep. It *is* a great film in my eyes. One of my favorites of the year (and I've already got the Best Buy steelbook preordered). As to why it failed to draw an audience? I think marketing probably overestimated the general public's awareness of The Shining. I mean, that movie is nearly 40 years old at this point. And if you're a cineaste or a devoted horror fan, you probably know about it. But if you're not in that scene? Well, Doctor Sleep’s marketing really didn't give you a whole heck of a lot to work with. It didn't tell the audience what the story was about (a middle-aged man protecting a young girl from psychic vampires) and instead depended solely on the original film's iconography. I personally loved the marketing, but I realize now they were preaching to the choir with me and probably should've worried more about the rest of the ticket-buying world.