Doctor Sleep

Shine a fright.

Mike Flanagan has adapted enough tales of terror to both the small and big screen to warrant himself a hero of the horror genre. With that said, stepping in the snow-set footsteps of one of the greatest directors of all-time, to recapture one of his greatest works is a nightmare that few would dare to venture in to, mainly because they aren’t the only set of footsteps he’s following. As much as the world holds Kubrick’s take on The Shining in such high regard, one audience member that the film never sat right with, was the author of the book it was based on. Stephen King has made it clear over the years that he had issues with how Kubrick handled the horror story, so trying to make a sequel that could meet both the picture and the page-turner in the middle would send a chill down the spine of any filmmaker, and yet Flanagan has braved The Overlook Hotel and one of the greatest films ever made, to create his own. 

Is it as good as its predecessor? Pfft. Is Jack Torrence all there by the end of our last trip to that hotel in the hills? But then, Doctor Sleep isn’t trying to be, and it’s all the more enjoyable because of it.

 

Set decades after the first film, Flanagan’s fright-fest sees Danny Torrence all grown up, still trying to deal with the gift that keeps on giving and forget the horrors that spawned from it. Finding the only method of sedating his ability to shine at the bottom of a bottle, it just barely drowns out the voices that have haunted him ever since he and his mother escaped the Overlook and the clutches of his axe-swinging Dad. However, chance and circumstance lead him to cross paths with another gifted individual named Abra (Kyliegh Curran), who has a shine brighter than even Danny had in his younger years, and he’s not the only one that sees it. 

There’ve been some frightening females that have haunted us for years, and Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat is without question set to join the ranks.

Here is where Doctor Sleep delivers a very different dose compared to its predecessor, but one that’s just as effective in its aim and the scares stored within it. Rather than keep to the confines of a single sprawling location, Sleep takes to the road in a reality-bending chase movie, with a psychedelic Terminator hot on the heels of both Danny and his new partner-in-shine, and she’s unquestionably the film’s greatest asset. 

Stephen King has never been a stranger to crafting truly terrifying women, and some of his finest have made their way to the screen. From Carrie‘s Mum to Annie Wilkes in Misery, there’ve been some frightening females that have haunted us for years, and Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat is without question set to join the ranks. Leading a travelling band of immortals that feed on children and any sliver of shine they may possess, she’s the murderous Mother Superior that meets her match in Abra and Danny. Bearing a familiar deceptiveness to King’s child-terrorising clown, Ferguson plays her like an addict that think she’s in control of her vice right up until she isn’t, leading her to unleash a positively palpable rage. Seeing her go toe-to-toe with Abra and her new ally allows Flanagan to go crazy with some set-pieces, and it’s a thrill to be in the centre of it all as these three gifted minds go at it. The real trip that fans will all want to rush to will be the one that Flanagan dares to venture on, and it builds every kind of chill possible.

Both in its production and its protagonist, Doctor Sleep fights so as not to be bound by what came before and does so brilliantly, but makes sure to at least pay it a visit. The shadow of the Overlook Hotel constructed from Kubrick’s masterpiece and King’s book hangs over Flanagan’s film throughout. It’s completely unavoidable and with that, the director embraces both in just the right way. Whether its shots or sounds that haunt the film and ultimately Danny, it doesn’t feel like pandering to the fans, but crucial element to a story that Flanagan fits in like a terrifying puzzle piece for a picture that shines bright all on its own.

Doctor Sleep
Not one to overlook.
Doctor Sleep is the Blade Runner 2049 of horror movies. Never outstaying its welcome in what came before and with a strong enough story to keep you invested. McGregor and Curran are a great pair, but Ferguson is the real surprise that brings the scares you can't get enough of.
4
GREAT