Did you know there is a sequel to The Shining? I will tell you right now I didn’t. Now with the upcoming release of Doctor Sleep, we learn what happened to young Danny Torrance after the events in the Overlook Hotel.
Starring Ewan McGregor as the grown-up psychic, Doctor Sleep follows Danny as he meets another individual with powers like his and how he must contend with a malevolent group wishing to cause harm to people like him.
Welcome back, you’ve been missed
I have to say when I first saw the trailer to Doctor Sleep I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now though I can say without a shadow of a doubt this is a brilliant film.
Firstly there is the cast. McGregor is brilliant as a world-weary Danny Torrance. As a child of trauma and supernatural trauma to boot, Danny at the start of the film has tried to hide away from all that he is. At the bottom of a bottle Danny hides from the past as well as his supernatural gifts. His journey through the film is quite emotional and McGregor sells it with his compelling performance.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat. She is the head of the True Knot and preys upon people like Danny, people who shine. The best way to describe Rose the Hat and the True Knot is that they are a pack of jackals. They are always hungry, they are ferocious and they are terrifying. Ferguson is fantastic as Rose the Hat. She’s this beguiling figure and she is full of this chaotic energy that I was really impressed by.
Then there is Abra Stone (newcomer Kyliegh Curran). She is at the centre of Doctor Sleep as the focus of the True Knot’s insidious intentions. Curran has a lot of talent. She gives off a formidable presence for someone so young. At several points throughout the film she really shines (excuse the pun). In particular, there is a scene with her and one of the members of the True Knot and she was impressive.
These are the key figures of the film but the supporting cast are no slouch either. The members of the True Knot feel like a family even if they are horrible monsters. You empathise with them as the narrative gives them a lot to do together as a unit. It’s surprising how well director Mike Flanagan has weaved the theme of family into the plot of Doctor Sleep.
You never truly leave
Director Mike Flanagan has replicated a lot of what made The Shining so terrifying, even though I would say Doctor Sleep is closer to a thriller than a traditional horror like its predecessor.
There are elements in Doctor Sleep that bring back that unease. The score is particularly unsettling and it comes from a combination of the original score from The Shining and the utilisation of a heartbeat.
There is also the surreal cinematography. The way cinematographer Michael Fimognari utilises the powers of people who shine as well as the True Knot members are best described as monumental. There is a particular scene where Rose the Hat pits herself against Abra that both terrifies and impresses.
If there is anything negative from Doctor Sleep is it may be too long for some audiences (151 minutes long). Also when the third act kicks in the subtlety of the film is dropped and replaced with a lot of fanservice with varying levels of success. This almost ruined the end of the film for me but I was still so engaged with these characters that I didn’t mind it too much.
Doctor Sleep is a brilliant film that continues the terror of The Shining in a new and honestly inventive way. When this story ends you the audience will feel like there is a bigger, bloodcurdling story out there and if there is I’m personally looking forward to it.
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