Doctor Sleep review
If your father went inside a hotel, went insane and tried to kill you, what are the odds your going to grow up normal? Certainly not in the world of Stephen King. Young Danny Torrance in The Shining may have had psychic powers, but certainty couldn’t predict what would happen to his dad and even everything else that would happen afterward. I wouldn’t matter for a while as The Shining only told the story in the moment and didn't see to find out what would happen to the child who went through an experience that no one, if any, have.
People certainly know the classic novel and more know the famous Kubrick adaptation from 1980. It remains one of the greatest horror movies even though Stephen King himself didn't like it. His complaint was that the movie didn't explore enough of Jack's character enough and only made him out to be a psycho on the inside. It's a legitimate criticism, but we still have the novel. It was famous enough that Stephen King wrote a sequel that follows Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep. Unlike the book which follows The Shining novel, Doctor Sleep incorporates the Kubrick movie in an attempt to bridge gaps.
In the years since the traumatic experience at the hotel, Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) has become al alcoholic mess who still dwell with bad memories and the occasional ghost. The ghost of Dick Hallorann (played by Carl Lumbly) did teach him how to lock away the spirits with his shining. Still, Danny stumbles his way to New Hampshire where he not only stays, but also decides to get help for his problems. Cut to eight years later where Danny now works at a hospice caring for the patients, but also acquiring the nickname "Doctor Sleep" for his ability to ease them into death.
At the same time, a woman named Rose the Hat (played by Rebecca Ferguson) runs a cult called the True Not, where she and her members find children with "the shining" and consume their "steam" in order to slow down their own aging. Though they've never known about Danny, they kidnap a boy in Iowa, when a girl Abra (played by Kyliegh Curran) seems to sense them, but can also sense Danny. She tracks him down and talks about the two of them taking out the True Not, even if this means returning to the abandoned Overlook Hotel.
I've read Doctor Sleep and I can say the movie does a good job translating the story into something more cinematic. Stephen King stories are often troubled by that. In the case of Doctor Sleep, it does keep you interested in it's characters, both good and evil and how everything adds up (it helps as certain characters don't come across each other for a while). On it's own, it's entertaining and should please Stephen King fans. As a sequel to the Kubrick made The Shining, it still works even if the result is a tad awkward.
What made The Shining so scary was it's ability to shows characters layers peeled away to reveal who they really were. There wasn't really a plot but more of a situation to get to know these characters. Doctor Sleep now has a plot, but a good one nonetheless. The movie does make attempts at recreating styles and shots from the Kubrick movie and director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Gerald's Game) does a great job. It's just that some of the more Stephen King-like aspects such as the True Not, disappearing people and even Rose the Hat seem to be in different movies that don't fit The Shining of 1980.
I can't say that Doctor Sleep is a scary movie, but I don't think that was the goal. I think it was always meant to be more of a supernatural thriller. It may throw off those that were expecting a follow up to the Kubrick movie, but Stephen King fans will love it. I myself think that had the movie stood on it's own, away from the 1980 movie, then this would have been amazing. As is, it's still entertaining and I do recommend it, even if you've never read or seen The Shining.
I'll give this four "Redrum" signs out of five. While there are things that could have been structured and didn't need to make the connections, it makes up with great acting, a fun atmosphere and a story that seems like how you'd want to see an adult Danny Torrance. Return to the hotel and kill for it!