Film Review: Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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By: Jesse Striewski

(Warning: may contain spoilers!)

It’s been thirty-nine years since the original Shining hit theaters, and over four decades since Stephen King’s novel it was based on was released. Now King’s 2013 follow up novel finally gets the Hollywood treatment, and couldn’t be more spot on.

Doctor Sleep is one of those rare films that engrosses viewers so deeply, they get completely lost in the world that’s being presented. It’s escapism at it’s absolute best. And unlike the slower pace of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 original, this follow up feels equivalent to that of a rollercoaster ride (yet without ever dumbing things down too much, which is far too often the case these days), even with a run time of over two and a half hours long.

The story follows a grown Dan Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor), now a recovering alcoholic who is propelled into helping another young prodigy that “shines” by the name of Abra Stone (played by Kyleigh Curran), who is being hunted down by a pack of half-human monsters who feed on children with her unique gift.

And like the original book/film, there are some noticeable differences present in this adaptation as well, some for better, some for worse. Aside from the obvious character changes made (Abra and Billy perhaps the most noticeable of all), there’s some characters that are drastically reduced (Dr. Dalton, played by Bruce Greenwood in the film, plays a much smaller role than in the book), or barely touched upon at all (Abra’s grandmother “Momo” played a significant role in the book, but is only mentioned and never actually seen on screen). And, without giving away too much, there’s also a key revelation at the end of the novel that unfortunately gets left out completely here.

Still, nearly every portrayal on screen is exactly what is pictured while reading the novel. McGregor is brilliant as a grown up Dan Torrance, newcomer Curran does an outstanding job as the young Abra Stone, and Rebecca Ferguson is both playfully menacing and sexy in her take on Rose the Hat. We also get glimpses of several other characters from the original film; Alex Essose as Wendy Torrance, Carl Lumbly as Dick Hallorann, and Henry Thomas (yes, the one from E.T.) as Jack Torrance, all do impeccable renditions of their respective counterparts. There’s even a brief cameo by Danny Llyod, who played Dan Torrance in the original film.

You could go see whatever mindless drivel that’s currently being churned out at your local theater, or see something with some actual substance (even those who haven’t read the book, but are fans of horror, should be entertained). Doctor Sleep is a film that both pays homage to an absolute American classic, and stands alone on its own all together. It should be viewed on the big screen while the chance to do so is still available.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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