The Reel Review
This sequel to 1980’s The Shining stars Ewan McGregor as Danny, the child survivor of the horror classic, who like his long-departed dad, is battling alcoholism as an adult, but in his case, to self-medicate a lifetime of PTSD and muffle his psychic powers. As Dan cleans up his life, his powers return and he meets a young girl Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who also possesses his ghostly abilities, dubbed “the shine.” When a mystical, vampire-like, child-hunting cult led by a sexy vixen (Rebecca Ferguson) sets out to kill Abra and feed off of her powers, Dan intervenes – but can he save her?
Although it is two and a half hours long, writer/director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) has crafted a well-paced, interesting screenplay that impressively captures the look and feel of the original film with very well done visual effects. And of course, it has that chillingly iconic score.
The acting is excellent, with strong performances from McGregor, Ferguson and young Curran as Abra. Even the replacement actors playing the roles of the original cast in The Shining are impressive, in particular, Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes), whose Wendy looks and eerily even sounds like Shelley Duvall. And the ending, which returns to the Overlook Hotel, is an intense Shining-esque thrill ride.
• Author Stephen King first got the idea for Doctor Sleep in 1998 at a book signing when he was asked what happened to Danny. As much as King disliked director Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining, director Mike Flanagan convinced him to let Doctor Sleep be a sequel to both the film and an adaptation of his novel.
• Doctor Sleep is the fourth Stephen King adaptation of 2019, after Pet Sematary, It: Chapter Two, and In the Tall Grass. Doctor Sleep easily is the best of the bunch.
• The room where Dan (Ewan McGregor) is interviewed to become an orderly is the same room that his father Jack (Jack Nicholson) is interviewed for the roll of caretaker of the Overlook Inn in 1980’s The Shining.
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