“Doctor Sleep” is the latest big screen adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Mike Flanagan is the scriptwriter and director of this sequel to another horror classic, “The Shining”. Ewan McGregor leads a cast that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, and Bruce Greenwood.
Danny Torrance has grown up to be a bit of a wreck with a foul temper and more than a touch of alcoholism. What he doesn’t know is that a wandering cult of hunters is out in the countryside feeding on the gifts that Danny tries to bury within himself. Danny tries very hard at first to dull the Shining, however a young girl lets her’s loose attracting the attention of this group known as the True Know. Ferguson plays the spooky and slinky leader, Rose the Hat. The True Knot members kind of resemble gypsies and live out of their caravan of RVs. Some years go by, and Danny ends up in a small town where he regains his sobriety and starts to use his Shining as a source of comfort for the elderly patients at the hospice where he has been working as an orderly. As the True Knot closes in on the young girl known as Abra, her power connects with Danny’s, leading to a powerful alliance forming to resist the evil brought on by the True Knot and the dark spirits of Danny’s past.
First of all, this is a fairly long movie that drags a little. The pacing for the most part isn’t terrible. There are some moments that could have used a little more background in spite of this already being a pretty lengthy cinematic journey. The cast was well chosen. McGregor is generally a pretty compelling and convincing actor, and he does well here. Curran as Abra is very good as well and seems to play off well with her older and more experienced cast mates. The psychic duels between Rose and Abra are quite compelling. Overall, the cast just seemed to work quite well.
The visual effects were quite good. There are some flashbacks moments to “The Shining” that are done with some recasting. In the original film, the Overlook Hotel did not have the same fate as in the novel, the audience gets to revisit some old spectral friends in this piece. I thought Flanagan made a bold choice in recasting some of the familiar characters seen in Stanley Kubrick’s film, and I think it is a choice that plays well. Some of those moments seem a little self-indulgent, especially since King himself avoided revisiting most of what went on in his original novel. In spite of that sense of retreading a too familiar road, I thought Flanagan handled it pretty well. There are some very notable differences between this movie and the novel, however the divergence isn’t too annoying. Plus, Kubrick’s version “The Shining” doesn’t entirely remain tied to that source material either.
Time will tell if this will be some kind of horror classic, however I think it was a pretty solid bit of entertainment. There are a few disagreements I have with some of the choices made when it came to scenes that could stand a bit more drawing out and those that maybe could have been shortened, however the movie gets a lot of important elements right. I think most Stephen King fans will find this at least a satisfying cinematic effort.