Updated: Sep 22, 2021
In 1980 a film by the name of The Shining crept into theaters and the movie world was forever changed. The adaptation of Steven Kings’ novel has been heralded as not just one of the best horror movies of all time but also one of the best films to ever grace the silver screen. Now in 2019, a year that has seen an array of Stephen King films, the holiday season gets a little eerie with the release of Doctor Sleep. The 2013 novel continues to the events of The Shining with Danny all grown up and the new film, directed by Mike Flanagan, is as much an adaption to the book as it is a sequel in the 1980 classic. Living up to The Shining is certainly no easy feat but Doctor Sleep certainly looked promising with its impressive trailers. Naturally, I was curious to see what was in store for this suspenseful looking adaptation; so on a dark and stormy night I ventured to this new movie and I must say Doctor Sleep did not disappoint.
The plot of Doctor Sleep centers on Daniel (Ewan McGregor) who seeks a new life after being tormented by his past. After starting fresh in a small town Daniel finds himself in a situation when a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) becomes a target of the True Knot: a group that feeds on psychic children. As adaptations go this plot certainly divulges itself from its literary counterpart and focuses more on being a sequel to the 1980 film; though it seemingly remains true to the fundamentals of the novel. However, when looking at the plot itself, the story of this thriller was investing to say the least. While it could be a task to get into do to its sense of pacing, that is not to say that the plot’s build up was tedious. On the contrary, the slow nature behind the storytelling was rather effective as it gave the movie plenty of time to build up the world of Doctor Sleep as well as elaborate the importance of Daniel, Abra and even the True Knot. These aspects culminate into a finale that was not only fitting for this movie, but also worked as a satisfactory conclusion for the tale that started in 1980.
Doctor Sleep‘s cast was indeed an impressive ensemble of characters. Ewan McGregor had a dynamic performance as he showed off the keen sensibility of this veteran psychic. Along with Daniel was Abra who, though she could be a mcguffin of a character, had enough personality and conflict to bring this young psychic down to earth. However, what really impressed me was the villainous Rose (Rebecca Ferguson) and the society of the True Knot. Along with being a viable threat the True Knot’s true strength came from their camaraderie as their sense of fellowship humanized these pseudo vampires. The supporting cast is to be commended as even the most minor characters had something to offer the movie whether it was Danny’s friend Billy (Cliff Curtis) or the spirit of Dick Halloran (Carl Lumby). From its compelling lead to its memorable minors, the cast of Doctor Sleep was a well rounded one that was worthy of its respected genre.
When it came to the scares Doctor Sleep was not a typical horror film; then again neither was its predecessor. Instead the film focused on having a tense atmosphere which worked very much in the movie’s favor. Along with a sense of eeriness was the film’s keen visuals. From effects to the cinematography, the visuals were simply astonishing and really brought a distinct look to the movie. The film’s finale was particularly good in this area as the creative nature was only complimented by its homage to the 1980 film. When it came to the music, the score by the Newton Brothers was fitting for the movie as its tense nature was fitting for the atmosphere and meshed well with the famous compositions of The Shining.
While I had solid expectations for this film, I was thoroughly surprised at how well Doctor Sleep turned out. True the film can be abrasive with its themes and direction, but it makes up for it thanks to its compelling story, solid cast and gripping atmosphere. Doctor Sleep may not have the surreal impact that The Shining did, but in this Film Adventurer’s opinion this movie is a worthy continuation of its predecessor; not to mention a standout film for this year.