Movie Review: "Doctor Sleep"
Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) has grown up, but he is still haunted by what he experienced when he was a boy. Dan has a gift that he refers to as The Shining. It allows him to communicate, telepathically, with other people, but it also makes him a target to hungry spirits. Spirits want his shine, and when he was a boy, Dan’s father took him to a haunted hotel, known as the Overlook Hotel. The spirits there were hungry, and while he made it out of the hotel alive, the spirits formed a connection to him, so they seem to follow him wherever he goes. By adulthood, Dan has found a way to deal with these spirits, and now works as a hospice nurse. He uses his ability to help dying patients find peace in their final moments, for which they have given him the nickname "Doctor Sleep."
One day, Dan is contacted by a young girl, named Abra (Kyleigh Curran), with a powerful Shining of her own. Abra has learned of a group, led by a woman known as Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feed off of other people's Shine in order to live forever. Rose The Hat has immensely powerful Shine, and uses it to track other individuals so that her group can feed. Rose The Hat is powerful, and has sensed Abra's power, so Dan needs to find a way to protect Abra from what is coming. Unfortunately, Rose The Hat is far more powerful than he is. In order to save Abra, Dan may have to take her to the most dangerous place in the world for her, the Overlook Hotel.
The Pros & Cons
Dan Torrence (+10pts)
Doctor Sleep (-1pts)
Abra & Rose The Hat (+8pts)
The True Knot (-4pts)
Death & Horror (+8pts)
The Seat Belt (-1pts)
Pro: Dan Torrence (+10pts)
I really enjoyed Dan Torrence's story in Doctor Sleep. It was fascinating to see what the character went through after the events of The Shining, and it was fascinating to see what kind of adult he would become, after a childhood of trauma. It was also compelling to see how he used his gifts as a hospice nurse, and it was compelling to see him take on the role of the mentor for Abra. This movie was filled with moments that will satisfy fans of the genre, but it was very much a character story about Dan finding a sense of purpose, and I really enjoyed that story.
This story was then made even better by having the talented Ewan McGregor in the role. The character was flawed, and he was afraid, but he was brave. He was a relatable character, and Ewan McGregor did a great job of playing him in a relatable and interesting way. I really enjoyed the character's story, and the talented Ewan McGregor did a great job with all of it. The character has a lot of fear and emotional trauma in his past, but is willing to risk his life to save Abra. There is a lot going on in this character's head, and Ewan McGregor was really effective at bringing this to the screen.
Con: Doctor Sleep (-1pts)
This was really honestly a very minor issue for me. The movie definitely does explain where the name Doctor Sleep came from, but I thought it got too little focus. The nickname, and the reason for it, was really compelling. I found Dan's hospice role to be really fascinating, and I would have liked to have seen some more time spent developing that. The whole story revolves around the concept of death. Do you run from it or do you embrace it?
The portion of this story that took place in the hospice was so compelling, because it showed how different characters handled their final moments, as well as how Dan's abilities helped them through it. Some characters were terrified, while others seemed to be ready for it. Despite the fact that the main character had telepathic abilities, these scenes felt so real because of how the characters reacted to death being on their doorstep. My minor issue was that, while I found these scenes to be really compelling and really captivating, they ended up getting very little focus in the grand scheme of this movie.
Pro: Abra & Rose The Hat (+8pts)
I liked the character of Abra, and I liked her dynamic with Dan. Dan took her under his wing, as someone else did for him when he was a boy, and he taught her what he knew about The Shining. Abra looks up to Dan, sees him as an Uncle, and is very eager to use her ability. Kyleigh Curran, the young actress in the role, delivered a pretty strong performance. She played the terror when she needed to, but for the most part, this character was just excited and having fun. The young actress did a good job with the serious moments, and effectively brought the character’s joy and eagerness to the screen.
Rose The Hat, played wonderfully by Rebecca Ferguson, was a really entertaining villain to watch. Rebecca Ferguson played the character with a compelling subtly that ate up (pun intended) every scene she was in and always left me wanting more. The character was an interesting villain, because everything she did came from a fear of death. Everyone understands that fear on some level, so you understand how the character ended up the way she did, but you never forgive any of the horrific things she has done. The character was powerful, the character was interesting, and Rebecca Ferguson delivered a compelling, enigmatic performance.
Con: The True Knot (-4pts)
In a movie that was just over two and a half hours long, I felt like the filmmakers focused on this group a bit too much for me to have learned so little about them. We know that these characters fear death, we know that they feed off of other people’s “steam” (their term for The Shining), and we know that the eldest member of their group will die soon if they do not find another source of steam soon. All of that was fine, and interesting, but the filmmakers focused on the group’s recruitment process, which was not necessary for this movie. All it did was waste screen time, which could have been spent focusing on the more compelling aspect of the group. In the book, there is room for both of these things. However, I think the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers took out the new recruit storyline, and instead stuck to the group’s fear of death (with the old man’s death right around the corner) and the horrific things the group was willing to do in order to keep death from coming for them.
Pro: Death & Horror (+8pts)
I touched on this a couple times already, but I thought that this story took a look at death in a really interesting way. The story did this in a few different ways, all of which centered around characters' fears and anxiety over death's uncertainty and inevitability. Characters like the members of the True Knot, and some patients within the hospice, feared death. Members of the True Knot had the opportunity to delay death, and were willing to do whatever it took to do so, yet still feared death's inevitability. Some patients in the hospice feared the uncertainty of death, but could do absolutely nothing about it. Then there were other characters who did not fear death at all. I liked how this story was able to look at the concept of death from multiple different perspectives, all of which were compelling in their own way.
Somewhat related to the concept of death, was the horror throughout this film. Characters died in this movie. From the things that tried to kill people, to the horrific ways that it happened, this movie was filled with horror moments. The movie had plenty of original horror moments, and plenty others that referenced The Shining, so there really was no shortage of horror here. Then with plenty of references to the last movie (that will not alienate those who have not seen it), plenty of nostalgic moments, and plenty of familiar ghosts, this movie definitely felt like a new chapter of an iconic horror story. The result of all of this, is a movie that will certainly scare horror newbies, and will satisfy fans of the genre.
Con: The Seat Belt (-1pts)
This was a really minor issue, and I do not want to spoil the scene, so I am going to keep this short and vague. There is a seat belt related scene in this movie that did not make any sense. A character makes a comment, that seems to imply another characters mindset, but that implied mindset did not make any sense for that character. There is no way that character would have acted the way they did, for the reason that the other character implied. Was it careless? Sure, and did it make for a comical one-liner? Definitely, but it did not make any sense once I started thinking about it.
Grade: A+ (95pts)
Doctor Sleep is a sequel to two different versions of The Shining. There was the novel, written by Stephen King, and there was the movie, written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick based his movie on Stephen King's novel, but made some significant changes to the story. Then, decades later, Stephen King wrote a sequel to his book version of The Shining, and that sequel was named Doctor Sleep. This movie is based on the book Doctor Sleep, which is a sequel to the book The Shining, but is simultaneously a sequel to the movie The Shining. I know, it is confusing, but the filmmakers of this movie had their hands full. I had a couple extremely minor issues with this movie, but I ultimately thought the filmmakers pulled the movie off very effectively.
I liked seeing how Dan's experiences during The Shining still affect him in adulthood, I liked seeing how Dan used his gift in the hospice, and I liked seeing Dan take on a mentor role to Abra. The dynamic between Abra and Dan was entertaining, and the actors (Ewan McGregor and Kyleigh Curran) did a great job in their respective roles. Then there was Rose The Hat, who was played enigmatically by Rebecca Ferguson, and was an antagonist whose motivations you understood, but whose actions were beyond forgiveness in any way. This movie is a sequel to the story from The Shining, but if you are going into this movie expecting another The Shining then this movie will disappoint you. This movie is its own thing, with its own vibe, and a very different story than The Shining, but it is really entertaining. It had compelling characters, a compelling story, nostalgic references from The Shining, and plenty of horror. I had a really great time watching this movie and highly recommend it if you are fan of Stanley Kubrick's movie, Stephen King's novels, or just well-written horror movies.