Mike Flanagan directs the 2019 horror film ‘Doctor Sleep,’ a film based on the novel by Stephen King. It serves as a sequel to the 1980 psychological horror film ‘The Shining’ from Stanley Kubrick.
Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has taken after his father Jack (Henry Thomas) and became a drunk to drown out the ghosts and spirits he sees after his experiences in the Overlook Hotel when he was a child, despite the ghost of Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly) teaching him how to lock the spirits in a box. Meanwhile, Rose (Rebecca Ferguson) and Crow (Zahn McClarnon) lead a cult that feeds off the psychic energy of those with ‘the shining.’ Danny manages to get help for his alcoholism with the help of his friend Bily (Cliff Curtis) and gets a job at a hospice home where he becomes known as Dr. Sleep since he guides dying patients into the afterlife. Meanwhile, he becomes acquainted with fellow psychic Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) through telepathy. She accidentally hones in on the cult and becomes their new target after she humiliates Rose in an astral battle. This forces Danny to make the decision to revisit his past in order to protect Abra from these crazed hunters.
Ewan McGregor is the standout performance as an adult Danny Torrance. The way he portrays the character, showing the burden he feels as a man who has a secret ability. His arc of hitting rock bottom and finding redemption was truly the heart of the film. Likewise, Roger Dale Floyd is recast as the young Danny and his presence brought an understanding to the movie.
As for the rest of the cast, Kyliegh Curran does a great job as Abra. She did have a certain confidence, but it came off as childlike confidence in her abilities. Rebecca Ferguson was excellent as the leader of her cult. You never know quite what she is, but that only made it way more chilling. I want to also shout out Carl Lumbly, who replaces Scatman Crothers as Hallorann. He had some big shoes to fill, but he wore them well. He did a good job and should be applauded.
The movie did a good job of building on the story that The Shining presented. It is not as good as its predecessor, but as sequels go, I felt that it did pay homage in a clever well and expanded on the supernatural themes while presenting its own standalone plot. Now, I did feel it spent too much time building up the cult, but it made up for it with the chills.
Now, it did rely a little too much on gore. The best sequences were the ones that provided the chills and thrills, but Flanagan ramps up the blood and decomposed bodies just a tad too much. It could have been turned down slightly.
However, the story of Danny and Abra was built to excellence and their relationship, based on their mutual abilities, plus all of the Easter eggs from its predecessor, keeps you hooked. Danny, who is trying to put his life together, gets caught up in this plot. Abra keeps wanting to test her limits. Rose wants to feed. It is a non-stop clash of these desires that makes the plot so enthralling.
Bottom line, Doctor Sleep has an engaging plot and compelling characters. Despite its reliance on gore, it does have plenty of chills and thrills that pay homage to its predecessor.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Bloody violence, Disturbing images, Strong foul language, Sequences of terror
FAVORITE QUOTE: I don’t know about magic. I, I always called it “the shining.”
Check out the trailer below:
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