There is one important piece of information that you need to know before you see Doctor Sleep. Those who like me are already obsessed with the masterpiece that is The Shining. Stephen King hated Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He hated it for being unfaithful to the source material, but of course not everyone shared his opinion. This was a challenging task for director Mike Flanagan, balancing the differences between the two with his adaptation of Doctor Sleep. How can you please two groups of people (book and film) who see history with different eyes? It’s a wonder how Flanagan managed to pull this off, as Doctor Sleep will bring smiling faces to book and movie fans alike.
To please both groups of fans, the film needs to be built on a solid foundation and, in fact, there are so many great performances to keep you occupied with its characters before it triggers The Shining nostalgia. Ewan McGregor is great as the now grown-up Danny Torrance, whose life has gotten out of hand and who is suppressing trauma through alcohol and following in the footsteps of his father Jack Torrance. His story in Doctor Sleep is a journey against the demons who followed him beyond the Overlook Hotel.
Danny is joined by Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), a young girl with very strong gloss skills who has become the target of the main antagonist group, The True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), which I was incredibly impressed with. Your character is possibly the scariest and polished villain I’ve seen all year, and Ferguson does a fantastic job along with other members of The True Knot. They spend a lot of time with this group on screen and therefore understand everything about them, their current situation, what they want and why they want it. All of these factors pile up into villains who feel threatening to the main characters, which makes it easier for them to root.
I really like the way the film explored the extent to which Abra’s skills show through. We learn early on that their ability to shine is stronger than most others’. The glow showed only a fraction of what Danny could, but in Doctor Sleep we see different ways the glow can be used, such as: B. seeing through other people’s eyes, looking into the past, creating illusions, etc. One of my main concerns about Doctor Sleep was that there would be elements that would change due to the contradiction between the Doctor Sleep book and The Shining Movie felt too far-fetched, but that use of Shining is very believable for a colliding world movie.
The overarching issue of alcoholism is another investigation that is moving forward. We’ve already seen how Danny used drinks to fight the ghosts of the Overlook. Doctor Sleep, however, delves into the more manipulative side of alcohol and captures the reality of a recovering alcoholic. Late in the film, we referred to alcohol as “medicine” here, and a key to the Overlook spirit allowing it to possess it, suggesting some form of lore research.
Sometimes I felt like Doctor Sleep was becoming something of its own and almost parting with The Shining by staging an atmosphere. The Shining was very much built on suspense and the idea of getting the audience to think like “what’s around the corner?” Or what is suggested by supernatural imagery. Doctor Sleep’s atmosphere feels a lot more brutal, especially on The True Knot. There are so many scenes that are not only difficult to see but also difficult to hear. I have to admit that I found it almost unbearable to watch because some scenes are so disturbing and I usually have a strong stomach for difficult scenes.
My main mistake with the film is that while there aren’t too many far-fetched deviations from the book or the Shining movie, there is one scene where the actions felt so out of place that you were somehow dragged out of the viewing experience and current tone that the film had slowly built up.
Now the biggest question people are going to have is how much nostalgia the film uses to get people on the side. This is the controversial piece because there are tons of nostalgic moments and throwbacks to famous moments and elements that Kubrick created. However, it is forgivable how intelligently they are placed. We get a lot of moments in the film’s climatic scenes when Danny returns to the Overlook Hotel, but two-thirds of the film barely contains any references, maybe one or the other. To me, this is wise of Mike Flanagan because he takes the time to tell a story and come up with a character we may not be familiar with before delving into the familiar. However, I can see that this nostalgic overload is still too much for people and the criticism of it is still strong.
Do you know what I did before I sat down, before I wrote this review? I started thinking about theories and interpretations and wanted answers just as I wanted answers from The Shining. Doctor Sleep will get people talking and create new, exciting theories about Kubrick’s masterpiece. If you’re looking for something to do The Shining justice in Doctor Sleep, you’re asking for disappointment. The Shining had 39 years to become a flagship of modern horror history. However, if you are looking for a movie worth calling a predecessor, Doctor Sleep is the place to be.