November 8, 2019 Doctor Sleep (Movie Review)
In film, a sequel can sometimes have quite a challenge to live up to when the original deserves a standing ovation. In the case of the new film Doctor Sleep, directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus 2013, Hush 2016), the aforementioned dilemma is presented as is the challenge of capturing the essence of a novel in a two and a half hour film length.
For those who are not aware, Doctor Sleep based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Stephen King, which is a sequel to King’s 1977 novel The Shining. A massive undertaking considering the originals were both critically acclaimed in their own right, Flanagan’s feature is set several decades after the events of The Shining while combining elements of the 1977 novel and its 1980 film adaptation of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Set for release the week after Halloween in the US on Friday, November 8th via Warner Bros Pictures, the setting revolves around a grown up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 1999, Black Hawk Down 2001) entering the scene fighting off his past demons by quitting substance abuse. Now, when truly contemplating how this may turn out cinematically, you must consider 36 years pasted between the original novel and Doctor Sleep follow-up. With this in mind, the author, Stephen King, is a vastly different person with an even further developed creative mind. In fact, as the years go by the tales of King seem to churn up more and more wild fantastical tales, yet they are still one hundred percent relatable for most types of humans into the Horror genre.
Fortunately for viewers, Flanagan brings a quality approach to Doctor Sleep. After all, he had previously worked successfully on the Stephen King novel turned film with 2017’s Gerald’s Game, so he knows how to approach his work. As alluded to, going into this sequel no one is expecting it to be better than the original.
However, while it is not better, the story itself is very well done, and there are some very good moments of cinematography. For example, the use of flashbacks to the original The Shining film are served up well in their appropriation. Furthermore, without giving away too many secrets, Doctor Sleep also has many very good portrayed and developed characters – this includes McGregor as Danny Torrance, who as an adult is working in a hospice in New Hampshire using his psychic abilities, along with a very fluffy cat, to aid the dying in their crossover to the other side.
Stephen King is definitely a master of character development, therefore a great cast is a necessity in his film portrayals, and everyone in Doctor Sleep live up to their role in an exciting way. The antagonist, Rose The Hat, played by Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation 2015, The Girl on the Train 2016), definitely hold her own as a sinister woman on a mission. Additionally, the teen named Abra Stone who connects with Danny who also possesses psychic abilities is magnificently played by Kyliegh Curran (I Can I Will I Did 2017). Other noteworthy characters include part of the rat pack of shiners, Emily Alyn Lind (Enter The Void 2009, Revenge series) as Snakebite Andi, and Zahn McClamon (Into The West mini-series, The Son series) as Crow Daddy.
Lastly, most entering to view Doctor Sleep while wondered how, and more specifically, when the Colorado hotel portrayed in the original film will be ignited into appearance again. We will just say the execution of its re-entry is well established, and where there is Colorado snow there must be winter coats that magically appear to protect the actors from the frigid elements.
As far as overall entertainment value, Doctor Sleep has no dull moments or times when a bathroom break would not disrupt the sequence of events. A feat in itself, and therefore the ultimate reason why every fan who has seen The Shining will most likely dig this new film. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Doctor Sleep a 4.5 out of 5 stars.