Danny Torrance Shines Again (Doctor Sleep review)

The Shining is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made (and has always been a firm favourite of mine). In 2013, Steven King (author of the original) wrote a sequel, and this is that adaptation. A sequel to the Kubrick masterpiece but still a film of it’s own, it’s a love letter to the original with enough scares and twists to stand alone.

Almost 40 years after the events of The Shining, Danny Torrance is still haunted by the (literal) ghosts of his past. His gift (“the ‘shining”, enabling him to have psychic abilities) is still working, though years of alcoholism have plagued his life. He’ll soon get sense of another with his gift, a young girl by the name of Abra Stone, and together they’ll team up to defeat Rose the Hat, the head of a cult that feeds on children.

Ewan McGregor stars as Danny, who was played by Danny Lloyd in the original. His performance is fantastic, and throughout the film he tells much of the pain and horror through just his eyes. A sequence later in the film, where he revisits his past, demonstrates his range of emotions and was gripping to watch. Kyliegh Curran plays Abra, and in the nicest possible way, she is one creepy kid! Her talent is profound, and she absolutely commands the screen while performing against some top A-Listers.

Rounding off the trio is Rebecca Ferguson who plays Rose the Hat. Her performance had all the intensity and creepiness required, but her accent was all over the place. Sometimes she was American, sometimes English, sometimes Irish. While it never took away from her performance, it certainly distracted from it. Other stars include Cliff Curtis, Jacob Trembley and Zahn McClarnon. Additionally, certain characters from the original make a reappearance, though I won’t divulge further as the surprise is far more satisfying.

This film, directed, written and edited by Mike Flanagan (creator of The Haunting of Hill House) is clearly a love letter to the original. It’s obvious that a lot of time and affection was put into the scenes referencing the original, and this was very exciting to see. Symmetrical framing and a discordant score by The Newton Brothers further added to the memories of the original, with some stunning production design adding the final gloss.

The film is slightly lengthy at 2hrs 32mins, and could have probably been trimmed, but the thrills were maintained throughout. It’s clear from the off where the climax of the film is building to, but that rising tension only made the finale evermore satisfying. As a fan of the creepy, unsettling atmosphere of the original, it’s pleasing to report that this is maintained through the sequel, and the audience is on the edge of their seat for the duration of the film.

Overall, Doctor Sleep is a more than worthy sequel to The Shining. While obviously not beating it, it provides enough gore, scares, twists, ghosts and ambiguity to work as a more than satisfying companion piece.

5 stars 4

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