By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
To this day, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining remains as an icon piece of horror cinema. Though King has never liked Kubrick’s take on his story, the movie has certainly had an impact on horror cinema that even King cannot deny. In 2013, the equally iconic author released a sequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep. As well received as it was, it was only a matter of time before a film adaptation would be made. Well writer/director Mike Flanagan wanted to prove himself worthy of this opportunity and the filmmaker succeeds in creating a movie that not only honors Kubrick’s interpretation , but also restores the original vision of the books’ author.
Since the horrific events that took place at The Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance has carried with him both the psychological demons created by his alcoholic father, along with the supernatural ones that haunted the hotel. Now an adult, Danny (Ewan McGregor) struggles with alcoholism which he uses to drown out the clairvoyant visions that have plagued him his most of his life. Having wandered about aimlessly for some time, Dan ends up in a small town and is befriended by recovering addict Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis) who helps him find the road to recovery.
As things begin to calm down in his life, Dan gets discovered by a child named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who also has the power of “shining.” Abra, who has an ability way stronger than Dan has ever encountered, discovers a group of supernatural parasites responsible for the deaths of many people. As Abra investigates further, she makes herself more vulnerable to the group of vultures who wish to “feed” on her immense power.
Though not quite as iconic as the original Shining film, Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep comes pretty damn close. The director obviously has much love for the source novels and Kubrick’s adaptation and manages to find a remarkable middle ground between both. Perhaps middle ground implies mediocrity, but that is not at all what I mean. Flanagan offers the best of both takes and succeeds in even pleasing the author himself.
The movie doesn’t quite shine as brightly though. The movie runs a little too long due to some redundancies that are not at all necessary. These particular moments obviously are done to show the filmmaker’s love for Kubrick’s movie, but it is a case of too much of a good thing. Still, I applaud Mike Flanagan for making a great sequel that fans of both the books and Kubrick’s movie, can enjoy.
Flanagan and his casting director have assembled a wonderful assortment of talents which help thing run beautifully. Ewan McGregor gives an exceptional performance as Dan Torrance, a man struggling with various kinds of demons who must find the strength to accept his amazing abilities. Young Kyliegh Curran makes a wonderful impression as Abra Stone, a pre-teen with a very powerful “shine.” Rebecca Ferguson certainly will not be “outshined” as Rose the hat, the powerful leader of the “True Knots,” a group of powerful people who feed off the powers of others. Ferguson shows some wonderful range as a villain and gives a memorable performance.
And for sure, Mike Flanagan has made a memorable movie sequel to The Shining. Though different in tone, the filmmaker finds the right feel for a movie that sets itself apart from its predecessor while honoring the art and craft that make it great.