Doctor Sleep – The Shining’s Next Generation

Doctor Sleep was a chilling and satisfying follow-up to Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining. Directed by Mike Flanagan, and starring Ewan McGregor as adult Danny Torrance, the film expertly blended elements of the book and the iconic Stanley Kubrick film adaptation to create a new and terrifying experience for audiences. Author of the books Stephen King famously disliked Kubrick’s version, even directing his own version of the Shining in 1997. This version, though more accurate to his original book, received nowhere near the critical acclaim or popularity of Kubrick’s version.

The story picks up decades after the events of The Shining, with Danny struggling to come to terms with the trauma of his past and his powers of “the shine.” He eventually finds solace in a small town where he begins to work at a hospice, using his abilities to ease the passing of the terminally ill. But his peaceful existence is threatened by a group of psychic vampires known as the True Knot, led by the terrifying Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). Danny spends decades numbing himself to the horrific visions granted to him by his “shine”, the ability that saved his life as a child but haunts him now.

McGregor gives the performance of his career as Danny, capturing the character’s internal turmoil and vulnerability while also conveying his strength and determination in the face of an ancient evil and an abusive father in equal measure. Ferguson is equally impressive as the charismatic and menacing leader of the True Knot, matching McGregor scene-for-scene throughout. The supporting cast, including Kyliegh Curran as a young girl named Abra with a powerful shine and Carl Lumbly as the ghost of Dick Halloran, also deliver solid performances.

Flanagan’s direction is masterful, expertly balancing the horror and drama elements of the story. The film featured some truly terrifying and suspenseful scenes, including various nightmares Danny faces as his Shine returns and a harrowing chase through the hedge maze of the infamous Overwatch Hotel. The use of music and sound design is every bit as good as Kubrick’s, adding to the eerie atmosphere that will remind viewers of the original film while also building on this new story.

Like its predecessor, the film’s plot and characters are just a veneer for its theme – addiction. Like his father, Danny Torrance suffers from substance abuse problems and much of the film draws attention to the two characters’ similarities by recreating shots from the original film. At one point, Danny leans into the famous axe wound left behind in a hotel bathroom door by his raging father. It’s a powerful image of the cycle of abuse and the effect that addiction and violence have on the next generation.

Overall, Doctor Sleep is a worthy successor to The Shining, delivering a thrilling and emotionally impactful story that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. It is a must-see for fans of the novel and film, and for anyone looking for a horror film that will leave them satisfied and wanting to see more of Flanagan’s work.

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