Doctor Sleep pays homage to Stephen King's original source of material as well as expanding into new territory.
"REDRUM" and Room 237 have returned...
A balancing act that will please both Kubrick fans and King fans alike. Doctor Sleep is chilling, poignant, and heavy on nostalgia. It’s a wild horror ride that will keep you on your toes. It's been almost 40 years since we last visited the Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). Now, we get to return to that element of terror with some spine-tingling chills. Doctor Sleep was Stephen King's 2013 sequel book to one of his ultimate classics, The Shining (1977). Now, we all know that King frowned upon Kubrick's adaption of The Shining. Nevertheless, Kubrick's film will always be a classic and it changed the way we look at modern horror. The original film's storyline dealt with the Torrance family, as Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Jack's wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) join him for wintering in the old hotel. Danny possesses a supernatural ability that the hotel's cook, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), calls "shining".
These psychic abilities enable Danny to see into the hotel's horrific past and he can also telepathically communicate with other people who also "shine". As the film progresses, Jack loses his sanity and tries to kill Wendy and Danny. Jack ends up killing Dick, who was there to rescue Wendy and Danny. They escape in Hallorann's snowcat, while Jack freezes to death after getting lost in the hotel's garden maze. Now, there were tons of differences between the book and the movie, but director Mike Flanagan (Oculus and Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House) was able to constructively weave the stories together giving a satisfactory sequel for both King and Kubrick fans alike. Flanagan said that "Doctor Sleep still acknowledge[s] Kubrick's The Shining in some way". "It is an adaptation of the novel Doctor Sleep, which is Stephen King's sequel to his novel, The Shining. But this also exists very much in the same cinematic universe that Kubrick established in his adaptation of The Shining."
Flanagan also explained working with all the sources, "Reconciling those three, at times very different, sources have been kind of the most challenging and thrilling part of this creatively for us." Doctor Sleep picks up right after the events of The Shining as we see Wendy and Danny trying to adapt to their new life away from the hotel and without Jack. Actors Alex Essoe and Roger Dale Floyd portray Wendy and young Danny in the sequel. We see them sprinkled in throughout a variety of flashbacks in the picture. Essoe and Floyd are split images of past actors Duvall and Lloyd, however; both actors bring their own incarnation to the roles of Wendy and Young Danny. Actor Carl Lumbly also portrays Dick Hallorann, giving us some nostalgic memories of the beloved character. Flanagan decided that the best approach "was not to do impressions; it was to find actors who would remind us of those iconic performances, without ever tipping into parody... I just want to be able to tilt people's memories toward those original actors, but then let the characters be their own." The film then jumps to Danny when he is an adult (a strong Ewan McGregor), who's been struggling with alcoholism.
Now, an adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl, Abra (Kyliegh Curran), with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with the "shining" to remain immortal. Actor Rebecca Ferguson plays Rose the Hat and is our antagonist for the film. Ferguson did a marvelous job as our 'Mad Hatter' villain. Throughout the movie, Flanagan recreated scenes from The Shining to use in flashbacks. He also avoided the horror film trope of jump scares as The Shining did. This allowed Doctor Sleep to splendor in its true eeriness and not be underdeveloped by cheap jump scares. Doctor Sleep is a more contemplative sequel that's still able to scare you and get under your skin. Doctor Sleep doesn't reach the heights of its predecessor, but that's hard to accomplish, especially when your predecessor is The Shining (1980). Doctor Sleep is a logical conclusion of Kubrick's film but also holds all of the elements found in a Stephen King book. In the end, we get to return to the Overlook Hotel and see all of our old creepy friends one last time.
Doctor Sleep is rated R (Restricted). For disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use.
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Approved by Stephen King
Starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Bruce Greenwood, Alex Essoe, and Jacob Tremblay.
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