Written by Ollie.
This review does not contain spoilers for Doctor Sleep (2019)
Stanley Kubrick's 1980 interpretation of Stephen King's supernatural classic The Shining is my all-time favourite movie, and so when I heard about Doctor Sleep, from director Mike Flannagan, it's safe to say I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was super excited to learn more about the life of Dan Torrance after the events at the Overlook Hotel, yet I was also incredibly sceptical and nervous that whatever they produced would taint the legacy and artistic integrity that Kubrick, Nicholson, Duvall and the team created some 39 years earlier. I was right to be excited, because Doctor Sleep, feautring Ewan McGregor in the title role, is a stellar continuation of the story that we know and love, shining a whole new light and perspective on the characters we know so well.
Doctor Sleep is wholeheartedly a worthy 'sequel' to the cult classic that is The Shining, giving us both more of the supernatural elements that were knowingly omitted from the 1980 Kubrick movie, whilst also of course giving us some phenomenal call-backs. The supernatural elements that featured heavily in Stephen King's original books never feel out of place in this film, with fantastic visual effects work of Marc Kolbe and the team at Method Studios, along with superb acting on behalf of all the cast- in particular the antagonistic True Knot group led by Rebecca Ferguson's Rose the Hat. The supernatural elements also help to flesh out the original story of The Shining in a respectful and exciting way, that in no way taints its ambiguity.
Meanwhile, Flannagan also pays homage to its predecessor as we of course return back to the Overlook Hotel (predominantly in the third act of the film), as we see a showdown between our major protagonists and antagonists. My only complaint is that some flashbacks were perhaps not necessary and would have been better as mere audio cues in the background rather than fully-blown scene recreations.
The cast is outstanding, with Ewan McGregor portraying Dan Torrance, a man struggling with his alcoholism and repressive shining abilities, and Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone is a wonderful child-actor, that unlike most, comes across as competent and a joy to watch on screen. But personally, the stand-out is Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, a fantastic antagonist for the sequel to The Shining, giving a chilling performance that is so skin-crawlingly enthralling you can't help but love her and hate her at the same time.
As seen in the trailers, we do get re-casted versions of Dick Hallorann- played by Carl Lumbly, Wendy Torrance portrayed by Alex Essoe and Roger Dale Floyd as a young Dan Torrance. All three of these cast members do a fantastic job, with Essoe in partiuclar truly capturing the likeness of Shelley Duvall, even down to the voice (I was almost certain that they used actual recordings of Duvall from The Shining in places, it was that good!).
Overall, Doctor Sleep is a fantastic movie, and more importantly a wonderful continuation of the story of The Shining, giving us both closure and even more questions (much like its predecessor). If you're even the smallest fan of either Kubrick's 1980 film, or Stephen King's books, this film is for you, harmoniously combining the pair into a stunning distillation of all the things we know and love- and more. With very few issues, Mike Flannagan's Doctor Sleep is a must-watch.
Have you seen Doctor Sleep, yet? If so, please comment your SPOILER FREE thoughts down below!
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