Doctor Sleep

The Shining by master director Stanley Kubrick had a psychological angle in its narrative. Even though it had that spooky reincarnation theme inside it, we were mostly looking at it as a hallucinated phase of the characters. When the sequel of The Shining, Doctor Sleep began, I faced a major disappointment immediately as the makers made it clear right from the beginning that this movie may well be a sequel in terms of story, but the nature is truly different. But to my surprise, as the movie progressed I was able to look at it as an engaging horror concept and towards the end when the classic hotel comes back, there were some connections on the psychological side which made it even more interesting.

So after the events of The Shining, Danny was living an extremely tough life. Dick Halloran’s ghost helps young Danny in finding a solution to his recurring nightmares. But the adult version of Danny in 2011 was living a miserable life of an alcoholic. Therapy helps him to get over that phase and the movie deals with events that unfold when a girl with similar shining skills starts to communicate with him to help her in dealing with a situation.

I have read that Stephen King was highly critical about Stanley Kubrick’s take on his story. It might be because of the psychological thriller angle which Kubrick focused on. In Doctor Sleep, in the very beginning itself, we are seeing Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose and her companions doing some witchcraft and the visual effects aided typical horror movie style sequence will clearly give you a signal that Doctor Sleep has an entirely different nature.  Mike Flanagan’s treatment almost feels like he was directing a Conjuring film for the first half an hour and then suddenly he realized this movie was a sequel to The Shining. While Kubrick maintained symmetry in almost every shot and did that blending edit transformation for almost every scene, Flanagan uses that only occasionally making it look almost like a homage to the classic movie. But as I said, that initial discomfort of seeing something too much in the fantasy space gets reduced and we are pulled into a fascinating interpretation of this superpower called Shining.

Ewan McGregor is the one who plays the crucial role of Dan Torrance. He comfortably gets into the skin of the character that is initially in that confused panicking zone and later acquires calmness. The gorgeous Rebecca Ferguson was really effective as the seductive, mischievous and crooked Rose. Young Kyleigh Curran as Abra Stone was extremely confident in a character that demanded a lot of confidence. Carl Lumbly replaces Scatman Crothers as Dick Halloran. Certain replacements they have made in this movie are a bit unsettling as the first movie and its characters have that iconic image.

As I said earlier, Mike Flanagan is not trying to copy the style of Kubrick in this movie. The similarity in style is most evident only in the last half an hour of the movie where the proceedings go back to Overlook Hotel. The script of this film that slowly takes us to a new interpretation of the ghost stories is the movie’s USP. If you are someone who is no longer excited hearing one more movie in The Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious series like me, this movie is a major relief that proves exciting stories are still possible in the horror genre. Even though the narrative featuring Rose got reduced a little bit towards the end, I loved the way they incorporated the first movie’s plot elements as tools against the character played by Rebecca Ferguson. The visuals and the cuts have a slightly different take when you look at the way horror fantasies are generally treated. Jump scares are comparatively minimal and there is not much chaos in the climax showdown. I loved the grandeur with which they introduced the Overlook Hotel.

I was initially disappointed looking at Doctor Sleep as a sequel to The Shining. But the content here has so many unique elements that by the time you finish watching the film, the pitch difference between this one and the Kubrick movie won’t be a problem for you. Doctor Sleep has enough original material to keep you invested in the story.

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Final Thoughts

The content here has so many unique elements that by the time you finish watching the film, the pitch difference between this one and the Kubrick movie won’t be a problem for you.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.