"Flanagan does make you nostalgic by recreating those iconic moments, he also immaculately places tons of Easter Eggs that are immensely satisfying to spot"
Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining, written and directed by Mike Flanagan. Think of The Shining and your pop culture-saturated mind will vividly recall any or all of the following moments from Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic: Jack Nicholson’s remarkably manic performance as Jack Torrance, those creepy twins, REDЯUM, those soaring shots of the ominous drive up to the Overlook Hotel, “Heeeere’s Johnny!“, room 237, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I’m not sure if The Shining really needed a second act, because Stanley Kubrick’s dark, disturbing and ever questioning classic holds a very special place in my heart. So if you're expecting the sequel to be “Kubrickesque”…. it’s not.
In my opinion, Doctor Sleep is different and it clearly has Mike Flanagan’s unique touch to it. These are two distinct, twisted yet beautiful styles that we should not compare. Flanagan did a great job of bringing elements in both the book and the previous movie together in harmony. The plot is compatible with The Shining and it all ties together very nicely. Stephen King famously hated Kubrick’s adaptation, but he reportedly said that Flanagan “took his material and created a terrific story” which he clearly did.
The story is about Dan Torrance played by Ewan McGregor, struggling with alcoholism and traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. The kid grows up into an introverted adult, hoping for a peaceful existence that soon becomes extraordinary again when he meets Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a 15-year-old who has the same psychic gift of the “shine" like him. Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal. Rebecca Ferguson, who plays the villainous role of cult leader ‘Rose the Hat’ did an impeccable job. However, Kyliegh Curran stole the shine (pun intended) in terms of performance. She was a whole mood - effortless, fresh and spot on. The screaming of skilled young actor Jacob Tremblay will make your blood run cold.
Doctor Sleep is a warmer film that focusses more on psychological complexities, humans with psychic capabilities and concepts of spirituality. I wouldn't call it a horror film, because it excites you more than it scares you. Dreadful yet, with zero jump scares, it is a well-written thriller.
The background score by Newton Brothers did not disappoint, an ascending heartbeat that slowly and very unknowingly gives you chills was impressive, the synthesized Shining theme, of course, because of its insanely iconic nature in Kubrick’s film makes a comeback.
Talking about comebacks, what was really upsetting is the fact that Flanagan recreated exact segments from Kubrick’s movie, casting them with other less persuasive actors. Kubrick’s masterful style, his obsessive calculation, is built into the very fiber of The Shining. There’s no way around the fact that anyone doing less exacting work will somehow fall short of an idea that they quite frankly shouldn’t have invoked in the first place.
Nevertheless, Flanagan does make you nostalgic by recreating those iconic moments, he also immaculately places tons of Easter Eggs that are immensely satisfying to spot. The movie in its entirety feels sensitive and thorough, well-made, intriguing to look at and pleasurable to watch. The brain-twisting Overlook Hotel plays with your mind and if you're deep into sadistic thrillers you wouldn't mind spending moolah to go back to that sinister playhouse again.