RELEASED: 31st October 2019
DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
CAST: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, Jocelin Donahue, Alex Essoe, Zackary Momoh, Henry Thomas, Carel Struycken, Robert Longstreet, Catherine Parker, Met Clark and Selena Anduze
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $71m
Doctor Sleep continues the story of Danny Torrance, forty years after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the “shine.” Instinctively recognising that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality.
Doctor Sleep is one of three 2019 releases that I have on my list and it’s also another Mike Flanagan directed film too. This time Flanagan had the difficult task of making a sequel that would stay faithful to adapting Stephen King’s novel, whilst also honouring the legacy of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining. Whilst Flanagan manages to honour both, it’s also one of the rare sequels where it tries to be its own thing whilst embracing the legacy of what came before, expanding upon the powers of the ‘Shining’, whilst also creating that slow-paced, atmospheric horror-thriller that sucks you in, especially in no small part to the simplistic yet effective score provided by The Newton Brothers. The cinematography from Michael Fimognari is solid here and the direction of the scenes such as the astral projection, be it Rose the Hat or Danny Torrance using it, are well executed and effective. The antagonists, the True Knot, are one of the more horrific and effective antagonists I’ve seen in a film in a while, a cult that feast upon the screams/shine from young children in almost vampire fashion, and the scenes in which they claim their victims are so well done, from the opening to especially ‘baseball boy’ Bradley Trevor (nice and yet absolutely terrific cameo performance by Jacob Tremblay). Ewan McGregor gives a good performance as an older Danny Torrence, haunted by his past that is almost a shadow of his father, right down to the alcoholism, with his journey being about overcoming your trauma and how you have to deal with your past as it will always follow you. Young actress Kyliegh Curran is absolutely terrific as Abra Stone, she more than holds her own onscreen amongst veteran actors with her confident and steely performance. Rebecca Ferguson meanwhile is arguably the best performance in the film as Rose the Hat, her friendly approach whenever she meets the True Knots potential next victim always has that seductively sinister undertone to it and deliver it with a killer smile or grin. I even liked some of the supporting characters, I didn’t believe that recasting Scatman Brothers role of Dick Hallorann would work, but the way that character is handled and how Carl Lumbly played him was interesting and really well done. Cliff Curtis also gives a good performance as Billy Freeman, Danny’s AA sponsor and friend who helps him out whenever he arrives in town. I also really enjoyed Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy, Rose the Hat’s right-hand man. I know some didn’t like the film due to how different it felt from The Shining or meet their expectations in general to not matching arguably one of the best horror films of all time, but I loved Doctor Sleep and thought Flanagan did a terrific job here and I look forward to seeing his future work in the 2020’s.
FAVOURITE SCENE: I was tempted to say the scene in which the True Knot feast on Bradley Trevor in how effectively horrific and uncomfortable that scene makes you feel, but for me its when Rose the Hat astral projects above the clouds, flying across the country in order to locate and infiltrate Abra’s mind.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Yes, you run, dear. And then I will find you, and you will scream for years.” – Rose the Hat
DID YOU KNOW: Ewan McGregor, Dan Stevens, Chris Evans, Matt Smith, and Jeremy Renner were considered and have met with the director for the lead role. McGregor ended up being cast with Stephen King’s blessing.