The Shining / Doctor Sleep
DOCTOR SLEEP (15)
D: Mike Flanagan
Warner Bros/Intrepid/Vertigo (Jon Berg & Trevor Macy)
USA 🇺🇸 2019
W: Mike Flanagan [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: Michael Fimognari
Ed: Mike Flanagan
Mus: The Newton Brothers
Ewan McGregor (Dan Torrance), Rebecca Ferguson (Rose the Hat), Kyliegh Cuttan (Abra Stone), Cliff Curtis (Billy Freeman), Carl Lumbly (Dick Hallorann), Zahn McClarnon (Crow Daddy), Emily Alyn Lind (Snakebite Andi)
A sequel to The Shining, though it's more a psychological study of the supernatural gift that is bestowed upon people like Dan Torrance, the child in the original Shining, now an adult still haunted and trying to escape his past.
It's quite well documented that novelist Stephen King was unhappy with Stanley Kubrick's treatment of his material for the 1980 film of The Shining, though the film has amassed a huge following, some of whom would call it the best horror film ever made. It's a difficult act to follow, for sure, but King's continuation of the story focuses more on an individual coping with their abilities, much akin to Carrie White in Carrie and John Smith in The Dead Zone. Settling down in a small New England community, Dan Torrance finds that his gift is a comfort to the elderly at an old folks home where he works as an intern, but he's able to make a connection with them in their final moments, and they dub him Doctor Sleep because of this.
Meanwhile, a cult led by Rose the Hat, a mysterious witch (of sorts), travel the country in search of others who have the gift of Shining, in order to consume their life force and grow even more powerful. Both Dan and Rose become aware of Abra Stone, who seems to hold a more powerful version of the same gift, and both seek her for opposing reasons.
Mike Flanagan does an excellent job adapting King's work as well as juggling the expectations of those who are fans of Kubrick's movie, for what is a slow-burning psychological thriller which builds tension perfectly, absent of jump scares in favour of an unsettling atmosphere which can be far more terrifying.
Though it's important to have watched (or even read) the first story, it only really comes into play in the film's third and final act, which culminates at the now-abandoned Overlook Hotel.
Personally, I didn't think this was as good as The Shining, but it didn't have to be. It's still a far better sequel than what was to be expected and an excellent example of how horror can work without the tropes which become nothing but a poor cliché for the genre. Once again, not everything is explained perfectly, which is fine by me, since I love films which encourage discourse and debate, and this is another film which will be discussed for hours by those who watch it.