Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep

In Theatres: 
Nov 08, 2019
Running Time: 
151 minutes

The Shining is one of the greatest horror films of all time so to follow in Stanley Kubrick’s footsteps is a tall order to fill for anyone. Director Mike Flanagan is no stranger to the horror genre or even Stephen King, directing 2017’s Gerald's Game to critical acclaim. Still, this is the sequel to The Shining we’re talking about here. Thankfully Doctor Sleep is a terrifying addition to the franchise that wonderfully pays tribute to both the novel and Kubrick’s adaptation. It’s a must-see film for any horror or Stephen King fans.


It’s been over 30 years since the events that took place at the Overlook Hotel and Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), now an adult, is still struggling with its lasting effects. For years he’s self-medicated with the bottle, following in the footsteps of his father, in order to suppress his Shine. Following a particularly bad bender, however, Danny decides to get his life together and move to a small town and attend AA meetings. As he sobers up, he begins to also receive telepathic messages from a girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who also has the Shine. As is turns out, there is a cult calling themselves the True Knot, led by the psychically power Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who are hunting down children with the Shine and feeding off their fear, known as Steam. With Abra now in their sights, Danny must confront his past demons if he’s going to help this girl and defeat Rose and her gifted followers.


Doctor Sleep plays out like a superhero horror film where kids with the Shine are being hunted down by a psychic cult that has been living for centuries feeding on the Steam of those who have these abilities. Rebecca Ferguson is terrifying as Rose the Hat, who can infiltrate people’s minds and find those who Shine. Their methods are absolutely brutal as well. One of the events that kicks everything off is the disappearance of a young baseball player, played by Jacob Tremblay. He falls victim to the True Knot and Flanagan doesn’t shy away from showing the brutality of his murder. It would be gruesome in general, but the fact that it’s a kid who is being ripped open adds another layer of horror to the film.


Newcomer Kyliegh Curran is at the center of the film as Abra, a girl who has possibly the strongest Shine of anyone. Naturally the True Knot want her Steam but it’s going to be difficult to get. One aspect I love about the film is that it doesn’t actually set Abra up as some sort of victum. Sure, she’s young and inexperienced with her Shine but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to use it still. There are some fantastic scenes between Curran and Ferguson as they have a psychic battle of sorts in each other’s heads. It’s an awesome scene to watch and really shows how the Shine can be much more than just talking in the heads of other people.


Fans of The Shining will not be disappointed with how Doctor Sleep connects to the overall franchise in general. The sequel actually features numerous flashback scenes that show the immediate aftermath of the first film as Danny and Wendy try to move on with their lives. I’m also happy to see that they used actors who resemble Danny Lloyd and Shelley Duvall rather than go for the CGI de-aging technology that so many films are using these days. It just fits so much better in the film. There are also subtle touches added to the film that fans with pick up on like how the office Danny goes to interview for a job in is the exact same as the office of the general manager at the Overlook Hotel. It's the little things like that that will make you smile and respect what Flanagan is trying to accomplish by blending aspects from the book and the film together into something that pays respect to both and yet still feels completely his own. Then there’s the third act of the film, which is nothing but pure fanservice.


Doctor Sleep is a trip down memory lane and a sequel worthy of its predecessor. It’s a new wing of the Overlook Hotel that adds to the rich history the first film established. It’s more unsettling than scary but trust me there’s nothing dull about it. Don’t sleep on Doctor Sleep as it’s one of the best films of the year.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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