‘Doctor Sleep’ will do anything but put you to sleep

Mike Flanagan had big shoes to fill when he signed onto this project. He had to win over fans from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ while also delivering a fresh sequel. Not disappointing the great Stephen King was also on the “don’ts” list, who was very open on how much he disapproved of ‘The Shining.’ 

‘Doctor Sleep’ is the sequel to the 1980 classic ‘The Shining’ with stars Ewan McGregor portraying an adult version of Danny. The film follows Danny years after the events of ‘The Shining’ and how it has affected him in his adult years. 

He is now an alcoholic running from his past but comes in contact with a young girl with the same powers, called “the sine.”

 After learning of an evil cult going after children with this same power, Danny agrees to help this young girl take down the group.

I have always enjoyed ‘The Shining’, although I have never been a die-hard fan of it. What initially drew my attention to this film was the name in the director’s chair, Mike Flanagan. 

Flanagan is behind such works as Netflix’s ‘Haunting on Hill House’, ‘Oculus’, and ‘Hush.’ He is a master horror director.

What’s unique about Flanagan’s films is that they are not stereotypical horror films that people will rush to go see in theaters. They do not offer the jump scares that people want to see, and most people won’t consider his movies genuinely “scary.” Instead, Flanagan creates strong characters within these scary stories that make for a well-rounded movie. 

I was confident that Flanagan would do the same with ‘Doctor Sleep’ and he did not disappoint. This film did justice to the classic that people have grown to love.

There are dark themes of death, abuse, and alcoholism that are juggled within this film that come to the big screen flawlessly and make us care for our central character, Danny, who struggles with all these themes.

The antagonists are some of the most well-crafted villains that have been put to film in a while. We understand their intentions and why they do what they do. There is no confusion about their actions. This makes them more than just bad guys even though they are not sympathetic. 

The third act of the film is complete fan service which I could see being a big gripe about this film. However, I loved it. 

These are not spoilers because it is in the film’s trailer, but the entire third act takes place in the original’s Overlook Hotel. We see recreated shots from the original film as Danny walks around. It felt completely earned after spending two hours with this character and we see how much effort he has taken to escape from this past, yet he must face it. It is an amazing set up to a justified conclusion.

My main gripe is not with the film itself, but rather the general public who claim to be the die-hard fans of ‘The Shining.’ 

From the reviews I have read of ‘Doctor Sleep’, people are constantly comparing this film with the original. Many critics claim that it isn’t as good or that McGregor does not deliver as good of a performance as Jack Nicholson.

These are two completely different films. 

‘The Shining’ is about a man slowly going crazy in a secluded hotel with his family. ‘Doctor Sleep’ feels like a science fiction movie. It is about  people who have special powers. Nicholson played a man slowly losing his mind in the original, while McGregor portrayed a quieter character struggling with addiction and laying low.

I personally enjoyed ‘Doctor Sleep’ way more than I enjoyed ‘The Shining.’ It felt more straightforward and to the point. If you are loyal to the original, then you may not like this one as much. 

However, if you are like me, you will probably enjoy this film quite a bit more. I recommend ‘Doctor Sleep’ to anyone who loves a good horror movie.