Movie Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Posted: July 4, 2020 in Drama, horror

Dr. Sleep

It’s been a tough life for Dan Torrance (Roger Dale Floyd, Ewan McGregor) he lived in Florida for a while with his mother, Wendy (Alex Essoe) to try to forget the memories of his father Jack, and the Overlook Hotel.  Danny’s become an alcoholic because of all the  trauma, and wants to start fresh after hitting bottom.  So he moves to New Hampshire, joins a 12 Step program, and becomes a hospital orderly.

While Dan is slowly putting his life back together, The True Knot, a gang of hippie vampires, led by Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) is feeding off people’s steam, or their psychic energy while they are dying.  The True Knot has already tortured and killed little league baseball player Bradley Trevor (Jacob Trembley) and they are looking for more steam, when Rose discovers Abra Stone (Dakota Hickman, Kyleigh Curran)  Abra’s steam is off the charts because she has the shining, the ability to communicate psychically combined with telekinesis as well.  What Rose the Hat doesn’t know, is Abra is talking to Dan, at first psychically and then in person, and they are setting a trap for The True Knot.  Does Rose fall for the trap?  Or does she capture Abra and her steam?

Doctor Sleep was a good book, it stood on its own as a story, it wasn’t scary like Shining, but Stephen King probably wanted the story of Dan Torrance to stand on its own, despite being a sequel. The problem with the movie is that it tries so hard to be a sequel to the Shining, that it makes Dr. Sleep fail. It makes too many references to the original story, so that the new characters don’t get to stand on their own, including the adult Dan Torrance, whose recovery from alcoholism is a very interesting part of the book.  The True Knot seemed like a reference to the Manson Family, the movie should have played up the aspect of psychotic cult killers much more than it did, made them more menacing, but it didn’t.

The acting is good.  Ewan McGregor is one of the best actors in Hollywood, and he really got to stretch, playing a not so nice guy in the beginning of the film, and playing a flawed antihero type by the end.   Rebecca Ferguson was not that scary, or menacing, maybe it was her hat, but she seemed like she was trying to be scary, instead of actually scaring people.  Kyleigh Curran was good, but she looked a lot younger than the teen she portrayed. She didn’t play the role like a smart mothed teen, just someone wise beyond her years.

The director, Mike Flanagan, seems to pay homage to Stanley Kubrick’s Shining far too much in this film.   He seems to take some scenes shot for shot from Kubrick’s version, and that didn’t seem very original or the best use of time.  Kubrick’s Shining was an example of form over substance, it was very visually arresting, but in all the visual fireworks, the narrative was lost.  And Flanagan in his rush to imitate Kubrick goes back to the well of scenes from the Shining, all too often, ruining the narrative of his own movie in the process.  Flanagan also seems to think that Doctor Sleep should be some sort of epic, clocking in at a hefty 2 ½ hours, there is a 3 hour directors cut that must be excruciating to watch. He also uses annoying gimmicks like a heartbeat sound effect when the vampires are near, to amplify the scariness.  It doesn’t work.  The pacing is slow, there is too little reliance on the source material, the book, and the ending is disappointing.

Dr. Sleep It’s hard to Overlook similarities between this film and The Shining.

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