3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Stephen King
Starring: Rebecca Ferguson, Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Rated: R for disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Decades after the horrors of “The Shining,” Danny Torrance is a drifter who uses alcohol to numb his supernatural abilities. Tormented by his past, Danny is contacted by a young girl who also has special abilities.
Review: Depending on who you ask, “The Shining” is either a classic horror film from filmmaker Stanley Kubrick or a novel written by Stephen King. The truth is somewhere between as Kubrick’s film is a very loose adaptation that King isn’t fond of.
Director/writer Mike Flanagan is put in an unusual situation with “Doctor Sleep.” He is asked to make a film based on King’s sequel novel while also making a movie that acknowledges Kubrick’s interpretation of the original story.
For most of its running time (156 minutes) “Doctor Sleep” feels nothing like Kubrick’s film as it plays up the fantasy aspects of the story rather than creating a sense of hysterical claustrophobia. It’s less cerebral. Even the violence feels more physical. Where Kubrick’s film feels layered with meaning, “Doctor Sleep” feels straight-forward.
I like that “Doctor Sleep” feels different. The last thing I’d want is Flanagan trying to do a Kubrick impression. That said, there are aspects of the story that inevitably require Flanagan to reference and recreate some of the film’s most iconic set pieces. Outside of a couple moments, he nails the landing.
The biggest problem that I have with “Doctor Sleep” is the way it telegraphs its final act and then takes forever to get there. It’s a tease that steals away the suspense from almost everything that comes before the payoff. If there was a part of the film that could have been stretched, it is the part of the film that feels the most compressed.
I like the cast, Rebecca Ferguson owned “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” and Ewan McGregor is a great actor that has carried his share of movies, but neither takes the kind of risks that Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall did in “The Shining.” They’re perfectly fine, never distracting but also never distinct. Ferguson comes the closest in a particularly vicious moment.
I enjoyed “Doctor Sleep.” It’s a perfectly serviceable sequel that has the unfortunate pressure of following a film that it was never going to be able to match or replicate.
Don’t go looking for “The Shining,” allow “Doctor Sleep” to be “Doctor Sleep” and I think you’ll enjoy it.