There is one important piece of information that you need to know before you see Doctor Sleep, who, like me, owned the masterpiece the Shining, will already know. Stephen King hated Stanley Kubrick’s Shining. He hated this because of Kubrick’s infidelity with the source material, but, of course, not everyone shared his opinion. This posed a difficult task for director Mike Flanagan to reconcile the differences between the two with his adaptation of Doctor Sleep. How can you satisfy two groups of people (book and film) who see the story with different eyes? It’s quite miraculous, so how Flanagan managed to achieve this, while Doctor Sleep will put smiling faces on fans of books and movies.
To satisfy the two groups of fans, the film must be built on a good foundation, and in fact it is how there are so many great performances that you can engage in its characters before it raises bright nostalgia. Ewan McGregor is big as now adult Danny Torrance, whose life has gone off the rails, subjugating his trauma through alcohol, following in the footsteps of his father Jack Torrance. His story in Doctor Sleep is a journey to action his demons that followed him behind the Hotel Overlook.
Danny is accompanied by Abra Stone( Kyliegh Curran), a young girl who has very strong brilliance abilities and became a target for the main antagonist group the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who impressed me incredibly. His character is perhaps the darkest and most concrete villain I’ve seen all year and Ferguson does a fantastic job with other members of the True Knot. You spend a lot of time on the screen with this group and therefore you understand everything about them, their current situation, what they want and why they want it. All these factors accumulate in villains who feel threatening to the main characters, which facilitates their rooting.
I like the way the film has explored the extent of shine through Abra’s abilities, we learn very early on that his ability to shine is stronger than most. The Shining showed only a fraction of what Danny could, but in Doctor Sleep we see different ways to shine, such as seeing through the eyes of others, looking into the past, creating illusions, etc. One of my biggest concerns about Doctor Sleep was that there would be elements that seemed too far-fetched because of the contradiction between the book Doctor Sleep and the movie Shining, but these applications of shining are very believable for a movie that collides worldwide.
The general theme of alcoholism is another exploration that is being pushed further. We have already established how Danny uses the drink to action the ghosts of oblivion, but Doctor Sleep examines the more manipulative side of alcohol and captures the realities of a recovering alcoholic. At the end of the film, here we have alcohol as a “medicine” and a key to the spirit of the survey, which allows him to own it, suggesting a kind of study of traditions.
Sometimes I felt that Doctor Sleep became something for itself and was almost separated from the Shining by the way it staged an atmosphere. The Shining was very drawn to the tension and the idea of making the audience think along the lines of “what’s around the corner” or what’s suggested by supernatural imagery. The atmosphere of Doctor Sleep is much more brutal, especially with the Real Knot. There are so many scenes that are not only hard to see, but also hard to hear. I even have to admit that I find it almost unbearable to watch because of how disturbing some scenes are, and I usually have a strong stomach for difficult scenes.
My main flaw with the film is that, while there aren’t too many crazy departures from the book or the Brilliant film, there is a scene where the actions felt so shifted that they were somehow pulled out of the viewing experience and the film’s current tone slowly built up.
Now the biggest question people will have is how much nostalgia the movie uses to get people on its side. It is the debatable piece because there are a number of nostalgic moments and retrospectives of famous moments and elements designed by Kubrick, however it is forgivable because of the way they are intelligently placed. We get a number of moments in the film’s climax scenes when Danny returns to the hotel to overlook, but two-thirds of the film have virtually no reference, perhaps the odd one or two. To me, Mike Flanagan is smart because he takes the time to tell a story and present a character we may not know before entering the familiar. However, I can see that this nostalgic overload is still too much for people and that review of him is still strong.
You know what I did before I sat down before I wrote this review, I started thinking about theories, interpretations, wanted answers the same way I wanted answers from the Shining. Doctor Sleep will make people talk and spawn new, exciting theories about Kubrick’s masterpiece. If you go into Doctor Sleep looking for something that can live up to the shine, ask for disappointment. The Shining was 39 years old to become a flagship movie in modern horror history, but if you’re looking for a movie worth calling its predecessor, Doctor Sleep has you covered.