Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Doctor Sleep

Set decades after the events of The Shining, Doctor Sleep catches up with the troubled Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) years after his visit to the Overlook Hotel. Director Mike Flanagan is smart in letting the story stand on its own without feeling the need to offer too many flashbacks or recreations to the Stanley Kubrick film, at least until the film's final act which is where Doctor Sleep begins to struggle a bit matching its own style to that of Kubrick.

Both movies were adapted from novels by Stephen King. Whether its simply the script treatments or the original source material, Doctor Sleep is much more straight-forward and linear in its plot progression (even while showcasing events from different group perspectives within the film).

After finally putting his life back together, Dan is made aware of a cult led by Rebecca Ferguson hunting down and stealing the "steam" of those with psychic abilities and the teenage girl (Kyliegh Curran) who is their next target. To save both their lives, Dan will be forced to confront the ghosts of his past.

McGregor is well-cast as the well-meaning but flawed Dan. Ferguson ratches up the sex appeal as the leader of the gypsy tribe living off the steam of others. The script uses the character of Snakebite Andi (Emily Alyn Lind) to both offer more examples of how a shining or steam can be used as well as offer an introduction to the cult and the lengths they will go to in order to prolong their own lives. Curran has perhaps the hardest role of the powerful young woman who who must shift from innocent to threatening at the blink of an eye all while helping sell some potentially ridiculous concepts as genuinely frightening. The relationship of Dan and Abra (Curran) is at the heart of the film as something of a passing of the torch making you wonder if Abra might have stories of her own yet to be told.

Even if it never matches the heights of Kubrick's The Shining, Doctor Sleep is easily one of the better adaptations of Stephen King's work (and might even help you understand Kubrick's film a little better). The film is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K, and various streaming services. Extras available include short featurettes on the making of the film, tying the sequel together with The Shining, and recreating the Overlook Hotel.

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