“Doctor Sleep” Review

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“Doctor Sleep” Review

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     Doctor Sleep is based on Stephen King’s 2011 sequel to his seminal horror novel The Shining. It picks up some 30 odd years after the events of the original film and novel, and sees once-little Danny Torrance struggling with addiction that stems from his stay at The Overlook Hotel.

     A film adaptation of King’s sequel was always going to be a messy proposition. King himself famously hated the 1980 film version of his original book, so how would a filmmaker go about melding the sensibilities of both the novel and the film to please fans of both of the works.

     Bless him, director Mike Flanagan did just that. By getting King’s blessing to use elements of Stanley Kubrick’s film, he’s managed to create a sequel that will most likely please fans of the filmmaker and the author in equal doses.

     Doctor Sleep is a film that is just as epic, if not even moreso, than its uber-famous predecessor. Its increasingly broad story spreads itself out over two and a half hours of unsettling terror and signature King weirdness.

     The story sees Danny struggling with recovery and connecting with a little girl who has the same “shining” powers as he does. When the two come in contact with a villainous troop called the True Knot, they must decide whether or not to band together and take on the evil that threatens their very existence.

     Rebecca Ferguson of “Mission Impossible” fame plays Rose the Hat, leader of the True Knot, and man does she absolutely kill it (literally and figuratively). In a film full of standout performances, hers is masterful and stands as a sign for what’s to come for the beautiful and talented actor.

     Her time on screen is filled with what can only be called gentle monstrosity. She’s undeniably charming and compelling, but also revolting and horrific.

     What helps her role significantly is Flanagan’s decision to give her team of soul eating bad guys just as much screen time and motive as the good guys, which serves to help the audience somewhat identify with the murderous antics the True Knot commits.

     While “The Shining” did not shy away from terror, this film takes it to a whole new level. One cameo scene with the imitable Jacob Tremblay had tears in my eyes and made me want to leave the theater because of the combination of visceral directing and virtuoso acting from the young star.

     Flanagan does not shy away from the ugly aspects of this story, and because of this, the dangers that the main characters find themselves in feels real. This is one of the most edge of your seat King adaptations since… ever.

     From the first scene that introduces Rose the Hat, the film is shrouded in a dark atmosphere that does not let up until the closing credits. The cast, director, and cinematographer have worked together to create a perfect distillation and combination of both King and Kubrick’s works.

     In terms of fan service of the original novel and film, “Doctor Sleep” knows when to pile it on and when to hold back. If this were put in lesser hands, it could’ve been the worst kind of nostalgic sweetness. Rest assured, however, “Doctor Sleep” is the perfect blend of old and new.

     While this film has its share of scares, those expecting outright fast paced terror need not apply. This is a slow building story of those who have hurt and have been hurt by others. It’s a pure story of recovery and redemption that’s likely to make some emotions rise in many of its viewers.

     “Doctor Sleep” is one of the finest King adaptations of all time and won’t fail to please established fans. Trust me, this long-awaited trip to The Overlook is more than worth the price of admission, it’s one of the best films of the year.