Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film – The Shining. It follows Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) as an adult who is struggling with alcoholism much like his father. Once he meets a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who also has the shining, they find themselves against a malicious cult called the True Knot.
I read the book Doctor Sleep, so I was excited to see how this film would combine the novel’s events with the movie’s events. And I think director Mike Flanagan did a very fine job at combining both of the stories, though I do wish he diverged from the novel a bit more.
This is not a typical sequel to a film. Sure it follows Dan Torrence, but the film is more about Abra. Something that I wish both the novel and this movie focused more on is the trauma would have surely affected Dan throughout the rest of his childhood and into his adulthood. I do appreciate that there’s more explanation given to what the shining is and what you can do with it. But I mostly found this film to be boring.
As a disclaimer for me, I was actually not a huge fan of the novel. So, if you know really nothing about the novel’s story beforehand, you may end up enjoying this more than I did. I was hoping that Flanagan would take more liberties with the source material to better fit Kubrick’s film. The divergence from the book comes in the third act, and even that felt a bit too pandering to the original film to me, but I still enjoyed that sequence more than the others.
I especially wasn’t a fan of the recreations of certain events of the first movie with different actors. I understand that you cannot get the original actors back, but it just felt weird to have different actors playing these iconic characters.
However, the acting in the film is pretty solid. Rebecca Ferguson was fantastic as Rose the Hat. She was truly the highlight of the film for me, but it is also clear from the beginning that she cannot compete with Abra and Dan. The rest of the True Knot like in the book, are underdeveloped and boring. Ewan McGregor was also really good and I liked him as a mentor to young Abra.
In terms of horror, I didn’t find Doctor Sleep to be scary at all. There is one disturbing sequence that stands out, but I didn’t feel the same type of dread like I did throughout The Shining and I was really missing that.
So in short, Doctor Sleep didn’t do it for me, I loved Ferguson as the villain, but found the rest of the story to be boring. However, if you’re a Shining mega fan (of the book or the movie), you will probably enjoy this film more than I did.
I give Doctor Sleep a C+