Doctor Sleep: Film Review

Following It Chapter Two, Pet Sematary and In the Tall Grass, Doctor Sleep is the fourth movie adaptation of a Stephen King novel/novella to come out this year and it is definitely the strongest of the lot.

Doctor Sleep is based on King’s 2013 novel of the same name, which served as a follow-up to his novel The Shining, and stars Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, a man with psychic abilities known as “the shining”, who first appeared as a child in Stanley Kubrick‘s 1980 film. Torrance has spent years trying to conquer his childhood demons and has finally found peace in a new town. However, that peace is shattered when a teenage girl with similar powers named Abra (Kyleigh Curran) comes onto the scene and asks for his help against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and The True Knot clan, who feed off the shine of children in their bid for immortality.

Director Mike Flanagan has done a terrific job honouring both of King’s novels as well as the Kubrick film and he thankfully hasn’t tried to make a new version of The Shining – Doctor Sleep feels like its own beast most of the time. The film works best when it’s doing its own thing and falls down when it’s trying to incorporate too many The Shining references. While it was cool being back inside the Overlook Hotel – which has been painstakingly recreated – the film lost its way a little and there were a few too many nods for my liking. They weren’t always necessary but I’m sure fans of the 1980 film will appreciate the surprises. I would recommend giving The Shining a rewatch before seeing this so the details are fresh and familiar. I haven’t seen it in many years and couldn’t really appreciate all the references.

The trailer has made this look like a horror but it’s definitely more of a psychological thriller. This doesn’t go for cheap jump scares – in fact, it was barely scary at all – but there was plenty of tension and dread, particularly when we’re back in the Overlook. Ferguson was also pretty menacing as Rose. Her performance was incredible and she had such a commanding presence. While McGregor delivered a good performance as the addict battling his childhood demons, he was outshone by newcomer Curran, who was discovered in a casting call of 9,00 girls. You can see why she got the part – her attitude is fantastic and she’ll definitely be one to watch.

It is the best King adaptation of the year but the bar wasn’t exactly set high so this was fairly easy to achieve. I’ve seen some say it’s the best King adaptation since The Shawshank Redemption but I wouldn’t go that far. I liked it but didn’t love it. It is a strong effort and has really good performances but it’s long, moves quite slowly and horror fans hoping to be scared this Halloween might feel disappointed.

In cinemas Wednesday 31st October 

Rating: 4/5

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