Ewan McGregor puts in a stellar performance. He plays Danny Torrance with likeability and charm that balances well with the character’s flaws and struggles. Kyliegh Curran was definitely a highlight for me, her character could have easily been obnoxious, and grating had she been played by a weaker actor, but Curran thankfully pulled off a super strong performance. Rebecca Ferguson’s take on Rose the Hat is hands down the strongest part of the film. The character is terrifyingly vile and evil, but the way Ferguson performs the part adds this otherworldly allure. Ferguson is fascinating to watch, and thankfully she doesn’t play Rose the Hat as an all-powerful supervillain. Rose has her fears, weaknesses, and limits that also make her somewhat begrudgingly relatable. Her motivations are clear, and she acts and reacts like a human that just so happens also to be a psychic energy vampire. Other noteworthy performances include Cliff Curtis as Danny’s ally and fellow former addict Billy Freeman, Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy, Rose the Hat’s lover and second in command, and Emily Alyn Lind as Rose the Hat’s newly turned henchwoman, Snakebite Andi. There are not any weak performances here. Everyone pretty much pulls their own weight.
“…has a sense of tension and dread that thankfully brings on the terror without using too many cheap jump scares.”
In addition to the excellent acting and well-written characters, Doctor Sleep is a delightful visual trip through a hellish winter wonderland. Michael Fimognari’s cinematography is top-notch. Fimognari is invoking a style that has complete continuity with John Alcott’s stellar work on The Shining. The sound design is incredible, as well. This film is very loud, but the sound effects add so much to the atmosphere and mood of what’s playing out on screen. The film’s flaws are few but noticeable. As previously mentioned, the film features flashbacks and dream sequences that have familiar characters from The Shining played by different actors. It just feels weird and unnatural, especially a specific scene that takes place later in the film’s climax. I guess it beats the alternative of poorly de-aging the original actors, or worse, just putting them in using bad CGI, but it’s still something I couldn’t get over. Some of the film’s visual Easter eggs aren’t very subtle, you kind of get beat over the head with the whole “Look at this! Don’t you remember this?!? It’s from the first movie!” thing that a lot of reboots, remakes, and reimaginings do these days. The last part of the film is a bit too much of a slave to The Shining. There are complete sequences lifted from that film, and it just feels like a Greatest Hits album performed by a competent cover band, sure the experience is still enjoyable, but it will never be the original. Overall, this movie impressed me far beyond what I thought was possible. It’s not a masterpiece like its predecessor, but it’s definitely one of the best films of the year. If you’re a fan of The Shining, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s a well-written, well-directed, and well-shot love letter to one of the greatest films of all time.
8 out of 10