‘Doctor Sleep’ Film Review

Grade: A-

Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep (2019)

When it came time to adapt ‘Doctor Sleep’; Stephen King’s sequel novel to ‘The Shining’, Mike Flanagan seemed to be faced with some tough decisions when writing and directing. Not only were King’s original novel and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation two different beasts, but they were so dissimilar that the author famously hated Kubrick’s take on his work. However, it seems that Flanagan has succeeded in crafting not only a worthy sequel nearly four decades after the original, yet a movie that seems to work on its own terms (Hey, if it is enough to please the “King”, then I am sure it will work for modern audiences).

‘Doctor Sleep’ follows Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), all grown-up, dealing with the literal and figurative ghosts of his past during his stay at The Overlook Hotel as a kid; his only solace coming in the form of bad decisions and a bottle of whiskey. It is clear that the trauma of being chased by his father, Jack Torrance, on a murderous rampage clearly had an effect on him. Besides being haunted by horrible memories, the one thing that has not left Danny is his “shine”, an ability where he not only can see visions of what happens in the past and future, he also discovers that he can communicate with other people who have that ability, including a child named Abra (Kyleigh Curran). This catches the attention of Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who kidnaps children with that ability, to eat their essence and “live forever”. 

While ‘Doctor Sleep’ may be an official sequel to ‘The Shining’ (both the Kubrick film and King’s original novel), it feels like its own movie due to its more supernatural approach. You do not have to like ‘The Shining’ to appreciate this sequel. The direction by Flanagan, focus on atmosphere, cinematography, and performances by McGregor, Ferguson, and Curran are more than enough. For fans of the original however, there is also a lot to appreciate, especially with its third act and recreation of certain moments from Kubrick’s classic film. I especially do not regret seeing this film and recommend it highly.

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