Review by Camden Ferrell
Nearly 40 years after the release of Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film The Shining, audiences will get to return to that world once again. Based on King’s best-selling novel of the same name, Doctor Sleep is a sequel to the fateful events that happened at the Overlook Hotel. This is a thrilling and satisfying adaptation that should please fans of both the film and books.
This movie takes place over many years and follows Danny Torrance as an adult. He’s a recovering alcoholic who meets a young girl who also has the ability to shine. Danny then learns that he must protect her from an evil cult that feeds off of those who shine. This is an entirely different type of story than The Shining, and it feels completely fresh and original because of it.
I was a fan of the book, but it was one that seemed difficult to adapt for the screen, but writer and director Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game) does a marvelous job of condensing the story and adapting it for film. It’s a more thorough and ambitious story he aims to tell, and with King’s source material, he does a great job of doing so.
This movie is led by Ewen McGregor (Trainspotting) who plays an adult Danny. He does a great job of understanding the depth of his characters. He battles with his demons, both real and supernatural in a way that feels very rooted in reality. He carries many of the scenes in the movie and is a rather engaging actor to watch in this role.
Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible series) gives an impressive turn as the antagonist and leader of the cult. She is beautifully frightening, and she gives a powerful and screeching performance that elevates all of her scenes and creates a formidable threat to the protagonists. The movie also features Kyliegh Curran in her first major role, playing the young girl with the shining. She does a passable job alongside her co-stars, and even if it seems underwhelming, it shows promise for this young star.
What’s great about this movie is how it seamlessly unites both King’s and Kubrick’s version of The Shining. It pays homage to both and continues its sequel with a similar spirit that will please all horror fans. It also features plenty of small details and references for fans of the Doctor Sleep novel. There are plenty of unique touches from Flanagan that make this movie feel more fleshed out and enjoyable. It’s a surprisingly human story about trauma and addiction that give this movie a more profound subtext.
The movie also succeeds in all of its unpredictable and shocking moments. Almost all of the film’s final act deviates significantly from the book in a way that is pleasing and surprising at the same time. Even if the creative choices can undermine some of the subtle character development, it makes up for it by being continuously original and frightening.
Even though it is over two and a half hours long, thanks to the fast pace and confident direction, it goes by very quickly. Doctor Sleep is a worthy successor and a sequel done right. It has great performances, scares, and plenty of surprises.
Doctor Sleep is in theaters everywhere November 8th.