Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is one of the best horrors of the decade. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
By Richard Heaton
Although I’m not a big fan of horror films, something about the Doctor Sleep trailer seemed to resonate with me as a film lover. I thought it was going to be pretty good, so I decided to check it out. And after seeing it, I was pretty impressed.
Doctor Sleep is loosely based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name from 2013, which itself is a sequel to “The Shining”. However, many of the details from the book were changed in order to revisit Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” film.
It’s widely known that King disliked the film so director Mike Flanagan wanted to keep a little bit of everything in the film to keep everyone happy.
The story of Doctor Sleep picks up immediately after the end of The Shining. A young Danny Torrance is facing the immediate effects of what had happened during the previous film at the Overlook Hotel. Then, the film speeds up to the year 2011, and an adult Danny is now an alcoholic like his father.
He slowly tries to rebuild his life in a new town while he starts “talking” to a young girl named Abra who used telekinesis to write on his wall from hundreds of miles away.
The two eventually meet because Abra discovers a cult who feeds on the powers of kids. Most of the film is a long journey of them trying to stop the cult while Danny tries to come to terms with his father and childhood.
One thing that I really enjoyed about Doctor Sleep was that there were no dull moments. Something was always happening.
The film was more than two and a half hours and while some people might find that too long, I felt the complete opposite. When I left the theater, I felt that what I saw was more than 150 minutes of content.
Another thing that I liked was the casting. The leader of the cult was played by Rebecca Ferguson, and she killed it. Her dialogue was powerful and her personality was terrifying. The scenes that featured her and either Danny or Abra really stood out.
Danny was played by Ewan McGregor of Star Wars fame, and he also played a fascinating part. He was able to portray Danny’s emotions perfectly. Whether it was guilt, fear, loss, or anger, he never missed a beat.
Beyond the story and acting, my favorite thing about Doctor Sleep was the music, if you can even call it that. Throughout the entire film, whenever something scary or dramatic was happening, you would hear a series of two beats that kept repeating. It was reminiscent of Law and Order’s “dun dun” sound effect and even if there wasn’t something scary happening, it made each scene terrifying.
Other than that motif, the only real music that played was the actual music from The Shining, which played near the beginning and towards the end.
For a film that’s a sequel to one of the scariest films of all time, Doctor Sleep wasn’t all that scary outside of one or two scenes. Sure there was some creepy stuff but it seems like Flanagan opted to go the story-driven route rather than jumpscares and horror.
Overall, even if you haven’t seen The Shining, this is a really good film and you can pretty much piece together most of what happened before if you pay attention. In my opinion, Doctor Sleep will probably finish the year as one of my top five of 2019. It definitely deserves a nine out of 10.