Doctor Sleep (2019)
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis
Music by The Newton Brothers
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.
I watched Doctor Sleep today and don’t have a lot of time so I’ll keep this very brief. I wanted to quickly write something about it, though, since it makes sense to review it on Halloween. I adore Stephen King and try to read or watch at least one thing of his each October. I love that there’s SO much King content lately (Well, I didn’t love In The Tall Grass. Ugh.) You can find my very short reviews for the Doctor Sleep novel as well as the In The Tall Grass short story HERE.
I’m a huge fan of The Shining. And by that, I mean the Stanley Kubrick film that Stephen King hates. I of course love the novel as well but, as I saw The Shining at a fairly young age, it’s one of very few King adaptations I saw before reading the book. I hate doing it that way around but it can sometimes make you slightly prefer the movie as it’s the version you knew first. I love both the book and the movie but The Shining is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and will forever be one of my all-time favorite films. So I actually had the film version in my head more than the novel as I watched this sequel.
Doctor Sleep is good. From what I remember of the book at this point, it’s a faithful adaptation. Flanagan, who I’m starting to really like and whose adaptation of Gerald’s Game I thoroughly enjoyed, does a good job of keeping the fans of the novels as well as fans of Kubrick’s film happy. It’s no masterpiece, though. I do think it’s been hyped up too much by horror fans.
As for the story itself, I liked it but didn’t love it but I already knew that going into the movie. I far prefer the simplicity of the story in The Shining. I’m someone who does love the supernatural more than any other type of horror but the whole thing with The True Knot was always a bit too far out and silly for me, even for a Stephen King story. The Shining is far more scary as it feels somewhat more plausible and also leaves more to your imagination. Not only is it one of the best psychological horrors with a truly terrifying descent into madness, it’s also a damn good and thoroughly creepy ghost story. We don’t get many good ghost stories. Comparing just the films themselves, Doctor Sleep has none of the special atmosphere of The Shining. I’m not someone who is ever scared by movies but The Shining comes closer than most to being truly scary thanks to its tone and its score and its carpet and I suppose the fact that it was made by such a gifted director. The Shining is a work of art whereas Doctor Sleep is just a good horror movie.
Okay – I’m not sure if I’m making sense since I’ve only just seen this and I’m trying to post a quick review before Halloween is over. I enjoyed Doctor Sleep but it had a hell of a lot to live up to. To be fair, the novel itself didn’t live up to the first book either. I’m glad the movie stayed faithful to the book but am not sure yet how I feel about bits of Stanley Kubrick’s film being recreated. At first I felt a little warm & fuzzy about it but then I kind of maybe didn’t like it so much. Kubrick’s film is beautiful & so iconic. I’m not sure I wanted to ever see it with lookalikes??
Ewan McGregor is fine as Dan Torrance and Kyliegh Curran is likeable as Abra. Their friendship is great but I didn’t really feel a strong connection between them. The true star of this film is actually Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She’s awesome! She’s a horrible, evil bitch. Is it weird that I think I have a slight girl crush on her? She’s scary & sexy and one of the best villains we’ve had in horror in quite a while. So, I did enjoy her performance and I did like seeing the story unfold. I watch all Stephen King adaptations and always enjoy them, even when they aren’t so good (which unfortunately has been quite often). I’m happy to say that Doctor Sleep is definitely one of the better adaptations. However, it’s never going to be an all-time favorite of mine the way The Shining, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption are. I liked this film but I was hoping to love it. I actually think that It Chapter One was a better King adaptation from recent years. Oh well – at least Doctor Sleep did turn out better than It Chapter Two.
My Rating: 8/10
**I haven’t yet added Doctor Sleep to My Stephen King Movie Rankings. I have to give it a bit more time to sink in before I decide where to put it. I’m thinking it’s probably around 9 or 10. I was really hoping it would be higher…