MOVIE REVIEW – Well after IT Chapter 2 we have another Stephen King adaptation on our hands, one that takes place after a very special movie for many – also a Stephen King adaptation: The Shining – directed by Stanley Kubrick. Now The Shining is pretty much a masterpiece from the 80s, and a lot of people are wary of unnecessary sequels.
The movie is directed by Mike Flanagan, who also wrote the screenplay based on the original Doctor Sleep book. He wrote and directed such movies as Absentia, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and he made two projects for Netflix: Gerald’s Game a movie, and The Haunting of Hill House a ten-episode series which, both of which received critical acclaim. Let us see whether we also need to get drunk to forget this sequel to Stephen King’s work and Kubrick’s adaptation, or whether Mr Flanagan was able to create something unique here.
Like father like son
The film opens with Danny Torrance drifting from location to location, completely drunk, and getting into fights most of the times to try and suppress the horrible memories, and experiences from The Overlook Hotel. Plus to suppress his supernatural abilities from ever coming back. After a while he travels to a town called Fraizer in New Hampshire, and decides to try and become a normal person, goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and even gets a job at a hospice. All of these changes to better himself are soon squashed when she ”meets” Abra Stone, a girl with similar supernatural powers. As she becomes the target of a travelling group known as the True Knot led by Rose the Hat, who feed off people who have The Shining.
Danny Torrance is played by Ewan McGregor who is simply wonderful in this, and once again gives a stellar performance. Rose The Hat is played by Rebecca Fergusson who does the whole sadistic cult leader effectively and will give you the creeps much more than this year’s Clown Show Part 2. She is scary, psychotic and manipulative, but also gets to the point, rather than dragging things out.
Kyliegh Curran plays Abra Stone, and she nails the role, probably one of the best child characters in the past couple of years. She does not feel annoying, her acting is on point, and the dialogue she is given is realistic considering what she has to deal with throughout the movie.
The movie as the book is connected to the original The Shining, but it does not devolve to fanservice in the sequel. Doctor Sleep stands on its own legs, and if you have not seen The Shining (Shame on you for that though), you can still enjoy this movie as a standalone horror movie. There are a couple of weird choices made in terms of the characters shown in the movie. Rather than having original actors de-aged like in some movies, or CGI-d the director simply recast them, so that might be a big no-no for some people.
All in all the story is great and stands on its own merits rather being a cheap fanservice sequel.
The travelling soul eaters
Now the movie might be long for some people as it is two and a half hours long, and while it takes roughly twenty minutes to find its footing, after that it is just a joy to watch. The director Mike Flanagan luckily does not rely on jump scares to make his movie effective, unlike some other directors such as James Wong from The Conjuring series, or just about any other generic horror movie. Instead, he relies on the characters themselves, and the atmosphere to sell you the dread, and fright while in the movie theatre. He has superb editing skills, and the script is great, and cuts off and changes just enough from the book that in some ways it is better than the source material.
The cinematography is great in this, and Mike Flanagan’s skill as a director and editor really show here, and while it is not Kubrick levels, it is still superb. There is no shaky cam, or sudden cuts, or blurry ghosts, but instead, the shots linger, and the audience can make out every little detail. There is also no clash of tones in this movie, it is straight to the point horror movie, and the director is able to create that experience, where unlike in IT Chapter 2 where the makers just did not know how to create that good atmosphere.
The soundtrack is also good in this and lends itself to enhancing the atmosphere even further. The music and the background sound is never overplayed to signify something creepy is going to happen.
Doctor Sleep does have a bit of fanservice in terms of editing, and audio near the end of the movie, but it is fine and does not entirely feel forced.
That two and a half hours flew by, as the pacing, the visuals and the atmosphere just sucks you in and does not let you go.
One more for the ride home?
People should not be going to expect this a blood and guts horror movie, nor a movie filled with jump scares. That does not mean it is not scary, it just does not rely on cheap methods to be scary. Doctor Sleep just asks the audience be patient, sit back, and enjoy the cinematography, and Even McGregor having that Obi-Wan Kenobi beard with a bit more hobo style.
It is a great movie, and while some may not like the fanservice elements of it, or that certain characters were recast, it does not subtract from the movie. All of the actors are great, and we finally get a child performance that is not annoying, and actually is pretty great. The pacing is superb, and Mike Flanagan’s style is perfect for Doctor Sleep. It works as a standalone movie, and even as a true sequel to Kubrick’s and Stephen King’s work.
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