This much anticipated sequel to perhaps the most beloved horror film of all time did not disappoint. Although nothing could really surpass the original, Doctor Sleep is a wonderfully classy homage to its predecessor, but unlike the 1980 classic it draws a lot more from King’s original source material.
The premise follows an older Danny (now Dan) Torrance struggle with the scars of his childhood trauma from his encounters at the Overlook Hotel. While trying to move on and suppress his ‘shine’, he comes in contact with a powerful young girl (Abra Stone) who needs his help against the merciless True Knot cult, led by Rose the Hat, who feast on the shine of innocents. To help Abra, Dan is forced to use his ‘shine’ and face the ghosts of his past.
The film is blessed with some very strong performances, particularly from Emily Alyn Lind as Snakebite Andi and Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat. These darker characters are portrayed as being so sinister yet mundanely human, so that any revelation of their inhumane nature is all the more unsettling. McGregor’s Danny is just as likeable as the younger. He appears fragile and run-down, but his drive to help the innocent yet strong Abra (Kyliegh Curran) sparks new life and strength into his character.
Although it does take its time, the film doesn’t drag. You can certainly appreciate the time taken over the details in the exposition, especially once you reach the finale. The whole film builds in anticipation to a thrilling concluding spectacle that will not disappoint fans or first-time viewers alike.
One of the highlights for me was the music. The score is reminiscent of the original, but there are sections where the music has been elevated. There is intense and incredibly effective use of heartbeats, human breath and Kubrick’s signature sliding strings to build vivid dramatic tension. I was also very much relieved to see that there is no reliance on gore or cheap jump scares. The plot generates enough entertainment to garner sparing use of gore where required.
If you do happen to be a fan of The Shining, then you’ll certainly enjoy it. It’s clear that much thought has been put into this production so as not to disappoint hardcore fans of the original. You might find a better understanding of the original film in this watch, but don’t think it ruins the beloved ambiguity of the original. This sequel still leaves plenty up to interpretation and personal understanding. For those who may not have even seen the original, it’s still an entertaining stand-alone film. Overall a good adaption of King’s source material, a brilliant homage to the 1980 classic, and one entertaining film.
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