Almost forty years after Stanley Kubrick brought the Overlook Hotel to horrifying life, Mike Flanagan brings viewers right back into his world with his take on Stephen King’s sequel. By virtue of its source material, Doctor Sleep is sillier than The Shining – the supernatural in King’s and Kubrick’s original finds its terror as it consumes an ordinary family, whereas Doctor Sleep’s overarching evil is a vampire-like cult that feeds on the Shine possessed by the likes of Dan Torrance. That said, Flanagan navigates Kubrick fan service and King lore with his own deft touch and genre confidence. The film may not quite stand on its own without pre-existing knowledge but proves a solid thriller that grapples with the human sides of horror and the legacies those can leave.
Much has been made of Flanagan’s reproductions of Kubrick’s sets and tone – notably that unrelenting, unbearably tense string orchestration – but the film’s clearest commitment is to its characters and themes. Without these, the recreations would be hollow. For a 150-minute film, no moment feels wasted, and letting Dan’s journey take its time lends weight to the fated final act. Ewan McGregor’s Dan continues the actor’s excellence as the everyman, and Rebecca Ferguson has never been better: Rose the Hat is threatening, campy, and endlessly watchable. Kylie Curran is one to watch; Abra revels in her Shine, propelling the plot as she pulls Dan into her fight against the True Knot.
Doctor Sleep will delight fans with the Shining brand of horror, yet at its heart Flanagan’s film is cognisant of this world’s innate trauma – both that faced by the original characters following the Overlook as well as that which Abra will be carrying forward. It will never reach the original’s iconic status, but its maturity, assuredness, and stellar performances are worth celebrating.
CAST: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kylie Curran, Cliff Curtis
DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
WRITER: Mike Flanagan
SYNOPSIS: Almost forty years after the events of The Shining, Dan Torrance finds himself psychically linked to a girl with even greater powers and dangers.