Review – Doctor Sleep (2019)

Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep (2019)

Release Date: November 8, 2019

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran

Synopsis: After decades of decadence, Danny Torrance gets a second chance at life only to find himself at odds with a deadly force of unprecedented evil.

Rating: 3.5/4 Stars

[The following is a spoiler-free review]

I haven’t been as pleased with a sequel to a film for quite some time. Few directors can take something as revered and cherished as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and adapt its successor with incredible deft and brilliance as Mike Flanagan does here. With Doctor Sleep, he embarks the ambitious task of melding Kubrick’s and King’s revered works while seeking to tell a story all his own. Terrifying, thoughtful, and downright chilling, Doctor Sleep is an incredible achievement in filmmaking.

Decades have passed since the events of The Shining with a gruff and older Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) wandering through bars and homes as a drifter. Years of alcohol abuse have plagued Danny whose ability to shine has remained clouded under the influence as ghosts continue to haunt him both literal and metaphorical. After a chance encounter, Danny’s life takes a turn and his ability to shine into the lives of others affords him the opportunity to find renewed life. Meanwhile, a dark and deadly danger lurks in the shadows preying upon those with incredible clairvoyance led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who is as cunning and chilling as she is lethal. With their survival at stake, The True Knot seek their victims and set their eyes on a young girl (Kyleigh Curran) who provides the key to satiating their hunger.

Rebecca Ferguson as the formidable foe, Rose the Hat, in Doctor Sleep (2019)

Shot beautifully and composed with consideration to its predecessor, the film maintains a continuity in its long shots, smooth pans and dissolving transitions. Tension in the film remains throughout and it doesn’t hold back on its scares including a scene that will have you squirming with discomfort in your seat. Disorienting sequences captivate to not only throw characters and viewers off-kilter but even maintain the mystery that feels both wonderful and at times rudimentary in its plot devices. Despite some of those moments and questionable character choices, Flanagan proves to be a master storyteller to keep an eye out for in the years ahead. If you haven’t seen his most recent outing with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, you’d be remiss not to witness true terror played out with incredible craftsmanship.

Kyleigh Curran as Abra in Doctor Sleep (2019)

Ultimately, Doctor Sleep is a frightfully good time at the movies and established itself as a worthy successor to one of cinema’s greatest. I must admit I haven’t read the book by which this film is adapted from, but with having spoken to a brother of mine who has read and seen the film, it’s essence remains even within the films reworking. Mike Flanagan succeeds and surprises with his latest labor of love, and viewers have much to look forward to as Doctor Sleep unfolds into its (mostly) satisfying conclusion. Much secrets and scares await for those brave enough to go back into this world. Room 237 awaits your stay.

Doctor Sleep is rated R for disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use.

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