It seems we’re not running short on Stephen King adaptations any time soon. Just as I type this, ‘The Outsider’ is premiering on Hulu, ‘Into The Tall Grass’ is on Netflix and ‘Castle Rock’ just finished up season two starring everyone’s favorite nurse from the King Universe, Annie Wilkes. An absolutely rare thing for Stephen King is the movie ‘Doctor Sleep,’ the sequel to ‘The Shining.’ I love ‘The Shining.’ It’s one of my favorite horror movies to watch every Halloween. While I’m not a big fan of Stanley Kubrick for the torment he heaped on poor Shelley Duvall, ‘The Shining’ is a classic. As stated before, King has rarely done a sequel but it seems so many people asked King what exactly happened to Danny Torrance so much that it got him to seriously sit down and think about and write out Doctor Sleep.
‘Doctor Sleep’ stars Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, and Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone. Danny Torrance finds himself, years later, still struggling with the events of The Overlook Hotel and the ghosts of the hotel that seem to follow him. Now an adult, he struggles to step out from behind his father’s shadow and struggles with his shining ability that he’s used alcohol for years to suppress. While Danny Torrance is starting a new life in New Hampshire, a nearly immortal cult of vampires called The True Knot are attacking children with the shining ability and consuming the ‘steam’ that leaves them as they’re being tortured and killed. The True Knot uses this ‘steam’ to keep themselves alive and strong. While Dan Torrance attends AA to overcome his alcoholism and becomes a hospice orderly bringing comfort to those that are dying with his shining that nickname him ‘Doctor Sleep.’ He begins to receive telepathic messages from Abra Stone, a girl whose shining is much stronger than his as The True Knot starts to hunt her.
I greatly enjoyed this movie as The Shining is still my favorite movie and book. The one issue I have with this movie is it follows Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining instead of the book because the director Mike Flanagan felt more people would know Stanley Kubrick’s version than the miniseries. He had to convince Stephen King of this as Stephen King dislikes Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of The Shining greatly.
So this is a direct sequel to that version of ‘The Shining’ which is an issue I have because there were many issues with Stanley Kubrick’s movie, such as killing off Dick Halloran who helps teach Danny how to lock away the ghosts of The Overlook that come to hunt him for his shining ability. Another difference between the book and the movie is that in the book, The Overlook is destroyed by the boiler because Jack Torrance never relieved the pressure. In the movie, the hotel is never destroyed and thus sits in the mountains rotting. Moving past my issues with Stanley Kubrick’s version of ‘The Shining,’ ‘Doctor Sleep’ does pay homage to the movie by having certain scenes as flashbacks to bridge the two.
I greatly enjoyed how they showed when they use the shining, many times when someone else enters another’s mind or they project the shining to their surroundings. The cinematics include the world tilting or turning upside down and the characters being tossed around or flung across the room. In one scene Danny, who possess Abra to protect her, uses Abra’s shining to crash a car being driving by a member of The True Knot called Crow Daddy. This scene also shows how strong Dan is compared to other people who possess the shining. Abra though is much, much stronger. So strong in fact that she nearly caught Rose the Hat in a trap when Rose the Hat tried to figure out where she is.
‘Doctor Sleep’ isn’t like other Stephen King novels and books that show us the horror within others, within environments or just plain horror, ‘Doctor Sleep’ is tying up a story that others have wondered about since Wendy, Danny and Dick Halloran escaped The Overlook and the horrors within its walls. Its about one man’s continued struggle to step out from a history of anger and alcohol abuse and to stop that cycle.
I was a little disappointed at one thing. I wanted the last ghost of The Overlook for Danny to lock away forever to be his own father. I wanted that to be the closure he needed in the end to come to realization that he’ll never be like Jack Torrance, for Jack to show up and Danny to lock him away in his mental lock boxes that Dick Halloran taught him to use and to find peace within himself. That isn’t what happened but I think it would have been a lovely way to end the whole movie.
‘Doctor Sleep’ is a great movie and I applaud Ewan McGregor’s take on an iconic Stephen King character. I encourage everyone to check this movie out and not just the movie but the book as well and see the differences in them. I give ‘Doctor Sleep’ a 4 out of 5.