Continuing from the success of 2017’s Netflix series The Haunting Of Hill House, writer, director and horror film aficionado Mike Flanagan is at the helm of Stephen King’s follow up novel to The Shining, now with Danny Torrance at the centre of the narrative. Packed with masterclass acting, a unique story and plenty of references to Stanley Kubrick’s original adaptation (which Stephen King famously hates), this sequel is one that has been worth the wait. Check out our five reasons to see Doctor Sleep below!
1. The Performances
A stellar cast led by Ewan McGregor (Danny) really drives this film. McGregor’s performance highlights Danny’s vulnerability after his troubled childhood and the problems he struggles with as a grown man are dealt with delicately. Ewan McGregor is always a pleasure to watch, with this film being no exception.
Rebecca Ferguson stars as Rose The Hat, the films main antagonist. Ferguson provides a mysterious element to the film, as her character harbours transfixing powers that are revealed throughout. Remorseless and dangerous, Rose is a great villain who will stop at nothing for her own victory.
Kyliegh Curran, in only her second feature film at the age of 13 delivers a captivating performance as ‘gifted’ Abra. Smashing the stigma of negative connotations with child actors, Curran is completely believable and pretty badass, leaving you rooting for her character as the story develops.
2. The Story
Marketed as continuing the story of Danny Torrance 40 years after the events of The Shining, the film delivers so much more than focussing just on Danny. Beginning with separate narratives of the three main characters all completely unattached, the film brings them together in unexpected ways with twists and turns in their meetings right until the final act as the eagerly anticipated return to the Overlook Hotel completes the story.
3. It pays great homage to the original
A sequel film to such an iconic horror introduced by a trailer packed with references to the original can understandably induce the wrong kind of fear into The Shining fans! Too much “remember this?” pointless bits and trying to be like the first film could’ve got this sequel all messed up. Thankfully the references aren’t overdone and the Overlook Hotel revisit as mentioned in the trailer comes quite some time into the storyline, allowing the narrative to progress naturally without the pressure of the first film. Some unanswered questions from The Shining are addressed, and other parts of the original book are brought into this film, presumably after King’s upset with the first adaptation.
Interestingly, the shots used for the return journey to the hotel is the original footage from The Shining, but remastered to mirror the dark pathos of this film. Also, keep an eye out for the design of the office where Danny is offered his job, very similar to the room Jack was offered his job in the first film. There are so many little Easter Eggs in this film!
4. The Sound Design
The Newton Brothers who have previously worked with Flanagan on a number of projects provide the film’s score. Most striking of all sound effects in the film is the repeated thudding of a loud heartbeat creating an ominous dread that underpins the storyline throughout, increasing in volume and tempo as the tension rises. Supported by sounds and a score both redefined but still recognisable from The Shining, the whole immersive audio experience is one that really reflects the feeling of the film.
5. It feels original and unpredictable
King has created another original horror with Doctor Sleep. A pack of villains with a unique gain from torturing their victims, calculated references to The Shining and a gripping story, this film sits high with one of the best horrors released this year. What’s most rewarding about this film is that unless you know the story of the book, there’s not much of a way of guessing how it’s going to pan out after watching the first act. So many twists in the story keep you intrigued and wanting more. At a runtime of 2 hours 31 minutes, it really doesn’t feel that long either. See this film, but make sure you see The Shining first.