Spoilers want you to come play with them. 15 minutes tops.
In case you haven’t heard, Stephen King was never a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s famous movie adaptation of The Shining. Mike Flanagan had to walk a fine line to appease both King and still pay tribute to the original film with Doctor Sleep, and the result is a particular mix of both camps. Horror movies based on Stephen King’s works are almost their own sub-genre and although this one is a fine addition, it also has to play the impossible role of following the novel and movie which had different endings.
Doctor Sleep is the work of director Mike Flanagan who also wrote the screenplay based on Stephen King’s book. We get to see kid Danny Torrance (Roger Dale Floyd) and his mother Wendy (Alex Essoe) trying to piece their lives back together. Danny is still haunted by the ghosts from the Overlook. He gets help from a vision of Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly).
We again meet Dan as an adult (Ewan McGregor) fighting an altogether different demon: alcoholism. He moves to a town in New Hampshire to start a new life, which he apparently does. His peace of mind ends when he gets contacted telepathically by a young girl with the same powers, Abra (Kylie Curran). Dan doesn’t want to use his powers anymore, but soon enough Abra will call on him for help to deal with a roaming gang of wanderers called The True Knot. Leaded by the enigmatic Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), these drifters prey on children with special gifts.
The movie takes its time to develop its characters. Ewan McGregor’s Dan embodies the character of a man who has been broken down in every sense and is slowly starting to turn his life around. It seems almost unfair for him to have to go through more hardship. Kylie Curran’s Abra is a new young prodigy, strong but also vulnerable to the dark powers closing on her. Both performances are really strong and engaging. You as the audience are invested on their outcome. Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose The Hat is the new antagonist and steals the scene with her charisma, wit and malice.
It’s unavoidable that the movie has to eventually bring us back to the Overlook Hotel. You know this since you heard this sequel existed. However, it’s almost unnecessary to do so. There’s no chance director Mike Flanagan can avoid this. He has to if he wants to pay any tribute to Kubrick’s masterpiece but it’s hard to call it anything other than fan service. Yes, we do go back and we do have our cake and eat it too, thus making this film like its predecessor an adaptation with a different but rather satisfying ending.
Strongly recommended as its own movie for fans of Stephen King but for Stanley Kubrick fans I have to put it a reservation. In the end, it feels a lot more satisfying as a reconciliation of two visions than as a horror movie per se. I think King fans might be slightly more satisfied. The performances are top notch and the cinematography is very well done. I still believe The Shining remains unparalleled and it ends when that movie ended. This epilogue is an optional sequel, good in its own right but definitely more of a new story.
That will do for now