Doctor Sleep may not have been entirely necessary but I’m glad it exists as it successfully expands the universe of The Shining with some memorable characters and a scene-stealing turn from Rebecca Ferguson. Highly recommended.
Plot: Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra, a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.” Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.
Review: The Shining is one of the greatest horror films of all time perfectly directed by Stanley Kubrick with Jack Nicholson at his absolute best… even if the story’s author Stephen King didn’t particularly like the adaptation. King wrote a sequel called Doctor Sleep (which I admittedly have never read) which has now become a movie that follows Danny Torrance (Ewan MacGregor) as an adult as he tries to drown out the memories of his youth and his psychic power he calls “The Shining”. He has essentially spent his life running away from himself but when he is contacted by a little girl called Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who can also shine he will have to face his fears and confront an evil group of people who feed off the “steam” of people who have The Shining.
This is a very strange tale that has more of a fantasy element than The Shining and I’m not sure a follow-up was required but Doctor Sleep manages to succeed in the gargantuan task of making a movie feel fresh while paying homage to the Kubrick classic. Director Mike Flannigan is to be commended for the film’s creepy atmosphere, mesmerising visuals and most of all creating characters that we care about. Kubrick was always accused of making his films rather cold, but this is not the case with Doctor Sleep which has and engaging story with a surprising amount of heart. Ewan MacGregor’s tortured performance as Danny is one of his best making us empathise with him completely but I think Kyliegh Curran’s turn as Abra stole the movie. She made Abra such an appealing character who is strong with the Force sorry, the Shining and proves to be more powerful than Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) could ever have imagined.
Ferguson is not only unbelievably gorgeous, but Rose is such a hateful character that you so hope she gets what she deserves and Doctor Sleep doesn’t disappoint. Rose is evil and yet she draws you in every moment she is on screen where you find yourself just hypnotized by her.
It is a little too long at 2 and a half hours and a scene where a kid is murdered was decidedly unpleasant to watch but aside from that Doctor Sleep really does the original film justice while telling the next chapter of the story.
The Newton Brothers are proving an exciting new voice in movie scoring and the music for Doctor Sleep is one of the many highlights. It once again references the themes from The Shining but creating an ominous new sound that helps permeate the film with a sense of dread.
Overall, Doctor Sleep is a worthy follow up to The Shining with some excellent performances and I especially think Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat will be remembered as one of the year’s best villains. It’s a little too long and the overly fantastic story may not be for everyone but it’s one of my favourite movies of the year.