Doctor Sleep is directed by Mike Flanagan. It’s based on Stephen King’s novel, and is a sequel to The Shining. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, and Jacob Tremblay.
Decades after the events of The Shining; Dan Torrance is still haunted by the memories of his father’s actions in the Overlook Hotel; and remains tortured by the spirits and phantoms that once haunted him there. A disturbed alcoholic and mess of a man; he relocates to a small town where he finds work as an orderly, getting his life back on track. Meanwhile, the True Knot; a strange cult of vampires who feed on those who possess the shining are starving; and thus, they set out to look for fresh targets. Dan befriends a young girl with similar gifts, and the twosome finds themselves face to face with the True Knot.
Making a sequel to a classic book/film like The Shining is no easy task; and it’s surprising to see Stephen King even attempted it; let alone that there would be a film adaptation of said sequel. Not many properties get a sequel nearly four decades after the fact. Despite it; Doctor Sleep is a chilling, violent, disturbing film with memorable performances and characters; bogged down only by its overlong running time as a climax which relies too heavily on nostalgia.
Ewan McGregor is probably best remembered for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels; but he proves to be the right choice to play an adult version of Danny Torrance in this film. This is a man tortured by his years and the beings who once haunted him; only to find himself thrust back into the conflict against a new threat. His chemistry with everyone is perfect, and at no point does his performance feel over the top or borderline parody; which is tough to pull off in a film with such dark and gruesome subject matter.
Deserved ‘R’ rating
Speaking of which, this movie absolutely earns its R rating. One scene of someone being literally tortured to death; is one of the most violent, heartbreaking, and disturbing sequences I’ve ever witnessed in a film. Fortunately, even the villainous side of the coin featured in this film manages to come off as somewhat sympathetic and relatable despite their dastardly deeds.
The supporting cast fares just as well; including Kyleigh Curran as Abra, a young girl with the shining who befriends Dan; Cliff Curtis as a man who befriends and aids the tortured Dan; and Rebecca Ferguson as the leader of the True Knot. Despite the long running time, these performances and the equally effective atmosphere will keep your attention on the screen throughout.
It’s a strong film; but in the third act, the overlong running time becomes a bit too much; and the crafty original story ditches its unique identity for a taste of nostalgia no one really asked for. Fortunately, this doesn’t derail the film, and despite this drawn-out and questionable third act, the end result works.
Doctor Sleep is a solid sequel to The Shining; which mostly manages to stand on its own thanks to an original story, disturbing atmosphere, and solid performances from its actors. Strongly recommended, but not one for the squeamish!
Rating: Three-and-a-half stars out of four.
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