For those who are not aware, Doctor Sleep is based on the best selling novel by Stephen King. This film is also a sequel to the 1980s horror hit “The Shining”. Those who are passionate about Stephen King’s stories will be happy to find that unlike “The Shining”, Doctor Sleep does stick to the elements from the novel.
Doctor Sleep is set many years after the tragic events that took place during “The Shining”. Our sequel is now focused on Dan Torrance, Aka Little Danny, who is now a fully grown adult (played by Ewan McGregor). In the present day, Dan spends his life keeping his Shining abilities to himself and enjoys staying drunk to avoid hearing voices. Dan soon cleans up and uses his “Shining” abilities to help others who are struggling in life. Dan also meets a young girl who appears to have similar (perhaps) the same powers to him. A strange cult wants this little girl. It’s now up to Dan to protect the young girl from those who hunt children and enjoy feeding on their powers. This cult calls themselves “The True Knot”. The cult’s leader is a mysterious, immortal woman who calls herself “Rose The Hat” (played by Rebecca Ferguson).
Being a massive fan of the 1st instalment (recently reviewed with a perfect 10/10 score), I naturally was eager to see this new sequel.
Ewan McGregor’s performance as the grown-up version of Dan/Danny is excellent, and his portrayal of the young boy we once knew is believable and convincing.
As a plot, there’s also a new story to tell. While the film enjoys giving nods to the original movie, the film’s central core and heart is a new story rather than a repeat of the old, even more so once Dan communicates with a young girl who may also have “The Shining”. The relationship between these two is also positive. It didn’t take me long as an audience member to get invested in this film and become eager to go on this new journey. I also found myself cheering Dan on as he goes into protection mode to save the girl from this creepy and unusual cult.
As for the cult, it’s also enjoyable to see them on screen and understand more about their world. Rebecca Fergusson also gives one of my favourite performance from her.
Final praise points has to go the film’s unique style of filming along with its audio tracks. Hearing the old “The Shining” theme track in the speakers lit my face up with a big grin. Sound effects also play a massive part in this film, and honestly, it’s just a perfect mix (especially when one’s heart is beating fast).
Overall, while Doctor Sleep doesn’t outdo the original movie “The Shining”, I’m still thankful to say that this is a solid sequel which will please many movie lovers. It’s a new, exciting next chapter with a good story to tell and with a fantastic performance by Ewan McGregor and fellow cast members that welcomes audience members into engaging with the plot. I can easily recommend this film, and it feels refreshing to see something new that ticks lots of boxes.
Doctor Sleep (2019) – Movie Review Podcast is now available!
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Review Written by Peter Walkden