Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on March 06th, 2020 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Mind Bender, Psychological, Thriller

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It's about Danny Torrance, now all grown up, who is forced to weaponize his shine to help save a kid from some supernatural serial killers.

Doctor Sleep was directed by Mike Flanagan (who also directed Gerald's Game and Before I Wake) and stars Ewan Mcgregor (from Nightwatch), Rebecca Ferguson (from Life) and Bruce Greenwood (from Below and Disturbing Behavior).

The next chapter in The Shining story

The Shining was (loosely) based off Stephen King's book from 1977 and Doctor Sleep was (even more loosely) based off King's sequel from 2013. Stanley Kubrick directed the first film adaptation of The Shining which veered way off course from what King had in mind. So because of this, Doctor Sleep had to be chopped up in order to preserve continuity with Kubrick's film. I personally loved the direction Kubrick took The Shining and also loved the direction Flanagan took Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep came out 39 long years after The Shining. So, to catch you up, there was this 5 year old kid named Danny with psychic abilities that a hotel cook called "The Shining" and who also nicknamed Danny "Doc". Danny's dad eventually goes insane, influenced by a bunch of ghosts, and tries to kill everybody. Doctor Sleep starts with Danny as a grown man living a really shitty life. Apparently he tried to drink his childhood trauma away and, well, you know how that usually goes.

The movie basically starts when Dan is hitting his rock bottom. But things are going to get worse because there's this woman named "Rose the Hat" who wears a silly hat and serial kills kids. There's also a young girl named Abra who picks up on Rose's scent. Abra shines just like Dan and eventually reaches out to him for help. For a host of reasons he feels pressured to help Abra fight Rose the Hat and her gang who are collectively known as "The Knot".

Ok, I know this sounds ridiculous. A guy named Doc teaming up with a girl named Abra to fight off a gang called The Knot led by Rose the Hat? But Doctor Sleep (itself an odd name) is actually crazy psychedelic mind bender that is a surprisingly effective sequel to a legendary horror film. I honestly didn't know how Flanagan was going to pull it off, but he nailed it.

One thing in particular I found interesting about Doctor Sleep was how much of the movie was devoted to showing things from the perspective of the psychopath serial killers. Sure, they snatched up gifted kids just to torture, kill and consume their life force, but they did it for a reason. Well, I suppose all serial killers do it for a reason, but The Knot killed for the same reason vampires do, to avoid certain death themselves. They're actually just as desperate and scared to avoid death as their victims are. Of course, that doesn't make it right which is where Abra and Doc come in.

Like The Shining, it's long movie that clocks in at about two and a half hours so there's a bit of a commitment to be made if you sit down to watch this. But also like The Shining, it's no slow burn. Pacing is solid throughout, there's really no dull moments.

Worth Watching? 

Yes, definitely. I found it to be one of the top horror movies of 2019. And I don't even think you need to watch The Shining first to enjoy Doctor Sleep, since it does a great job at catching you up. Sure, you might miss a few subtleties, but this movie really does stand on its own.

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