The Shining is pretty high up on the list of iconic movies that don’t need a sequel, remake, or reboot. Doctor Sleep is a movie literally no one asked for, but I’m really surprised to say that I’m damned happy it exists. Part-sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic, part-sequel to Stephen King’s beloved tome, Doctor Sleep is a weird but satisfying mixture. There are musical cues and nods and references to the original film, but all of the few returning characters are played by different actors (understandably, given that The Shining was released almost 40 years ago) and there are some retcons happening that make the film’s backstory more in line with the 1977 novel. With Stephen King’s confusing disdain for Kubrick’s take on the source material, you’d think that this sequel film based on his work would shy away from the Kubrick homages, but writer and director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Gerald’s Game) pays loving tribute with everything from set-pieces riddled with precise details, an amazing score by The Newton Brothers, and has a sense of tension and dread that thankfully brings on the terror without too many cheap jump scares.
“Danny must protect Abra from a clan of magic stealing psychics and their murderous leader…”
Based on the 2013 novel of the same name, Doctor Sleep follows an adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor). Danny has been suppressing his ‘shining’ powers with copious amounts of alcohol, but after a successful attempt at sobriety, his powers connect him to Abra (played by Kyliegh Curran), a teenage girl with exceptional abilities of her own. Danny must protect Abra from a clan of magic stealing psychics and their murderous leader, Rose the Hat (played magnificently by Rebecca Ferguson). That’s all I really want to give away about the plot because there’s so many twists and turns. It’s a far better experience heading into this movie completely blind. If you’ve read the book, there’s a lot of changes here. Doctor Sleep streamlines King’s original story and chooses to omit some of the book’s more extraneous subplots and characters.