The Doctor Sleep movie really has a great challenge; at the same time to be the credible heir to his cult predecessor, without to desecrate the point of the original’s action, while also to be a separate film.
The film opens shortly after the events of the first movie: Jack Torrance is dead, his son Danny and wife Wendy have relocated to Florida, but they are still haunted by the events that happened at the Overlook Hotel. The young Danny is regularly visited by the spirit of Dick Hallorann who teaches him how to use his psychic abilities — shining.
We soon follow an adult Danny. Now, like his father, Dan is loyal to vices, and not only to alcohol, he is in complete disarray (sleeps with anyone, and spends nights in bar fights).
After one more hard night, Danny realizing that it is time for a change and moves to the small town of New Hampshire where he begins work in a nursing home. There he finds a purpose in helping dying people in the transition to the other side through “shining power,” which is why he was nicknamed the “Doctor Sleep.”
We follow two more parallel actions – the ancient vampiric cult known as the True Knot. The True Knot led by the sadistic Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) use their powers to locate other shiners — mainly children — and murder them in order to eat their life force, which they call “steam,” and maintain an eternal youth.
In parallel, we also follow the action of the young girl Abra.
Abra (Kyliegh Curran) has an extremely powerful shine herself. Acting like a radio for other shiners, she unknowingly begins communicating with Dan from across the country, striking up a friendly and comforting rapport. But her great powers also make her a target for a vampiric cult. This begins the game of mice and cats.
The music has a very good effect initially, reminiscent of the musical effects of older horror films – definitely a plus. But the movie exaggerates with “false instant intimidation.”
The pace of the music rises quickly, the slower frame rates, and when the music reaches its peak, nothing happens. For the first or second time, this type of intimidation is effective, and then it becomes just annoying, blurring the well-used music background.
Ewan McGregor is convincing in his role but leaves the feeling that the role did not allow him to show the maximum. Rebecca Ferguson as a cult leader is also very good in her role, but the quality of the acting is lost over time. Also worth mentioning is Kyliegh Curran in the role of Abre, because for a teenage girl her acting is very solid.
The movie starts off extremely well and the music and the action itself draws you more and more into this world of Shining; a world where you must not shine, if you want to stay alive.
However, from the outset you see that the film did not plan to go deep in action, that is, Flanagan had no intention of filming psychological horror, even though he had all the prerequisites to capitalize on that aspect of King’s works.
It is obvious that Doctor Sleep is trying to be a movie for itself as much as it can be. Flanagan gives up elemental terror from his predecessor film and in his sequel combines insightful themes with horror elements.
However, dramatic elements are at the forefront, which makes it attractive to watch, with obvious and less obvious dedications to the original that are interestingly incorporated into the new narrative.
One of the bigger minuses in the movie is the bad guys. It is a group of villains with certain psychological powers who can “smell” the shining power of others. When they reach the shining person, they kill her and pull the steam out of her. In a group of 6-7 villains, only two of them have some character and some sort of background story, while the others are there just for the sake of order. Without good characterized of bad guys, we do not see all the qualities of positives guys. Also, the idea of visualizing shining in the form of steam is pretty bad.
The other big minus to this movie is the complete change of genre compared to the Shining. Shining was purely psychological horror, realistic horror, where elements of fantasy were barely present and only spiced up the plot. In Dr. Sleep is different. The movie is realistically fantasy from beginning to end. People “enter in someone else’s thoughts” as they wish, and although these are visually impressive scenes with great effects, they all seem quite confusing. By the end of the movie, you won’t know who is who in someone head and why. The power of shining is corrupted also. The movie and the book The Shining talk about a some presentiment that shows the future or brings to life the past, and makes it possible to talk thoughts. In this movie shining is brought to some another level, digging through the thoughts and memories of another person, getting into the thoughts of a person who is at the other end of the planet without major problems, and the like. The screenwriter blended the powers of shining, legilimony from Harry Potter, and classic telekinesis into one. This connection disrupts the atmosphere of the movie, especially for fans of The Shining, who will remember how much energy Danny had to invest just to call Dick to help.
Conclusion: Doctor Sleep is first and foremost an adaptation of Stephen King’s book and then a relatively worthy sequel to The Shining.
While Kubrick’s “Shining” is a serious study of madness that convincingly interweaves realism and the supernatural, Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” is a fantasy thriller with elements of gothic, In other words, while the supernatural in Kubrick’s film is in function on elaborate the psychological decline of the writer in a creative blockade, in Doctor Sleep, the supernatural and the paranormal are primarily in the function of wonder and fantasy in a fairy tale world.
In Doctor Sleep, we have now vampires. As demons, they have the supernatural powers of traveling from one place to another and age much slower than ordinary mortals. Among mortals, there are those who are more or less gifted with “shining”, clairvoyance, telepathic reading, influencing the thoughts of others, and moving matter through the mind….
The film has many dark scenes that make it memorable – from scenes of child torture to physical horror. However, there are too few of them to make the movie proudly labeled the mark “horror movie.” It’s more of a psychological thriller or a fantasy with elements of gothic and thriller and at best an average horror movie.