Ewan McGregor

MOVIE REVIEW: Does “Doctor Sleep” (aka “The Shining Part 2”) Hold Up ?

Stephen King released a follow-up to The Shining called Doctor Sleep in 2013. It introduces a modern-day Danny Torrance, who has spent years trying to smother his “shine” with drugs and booze. A new friendship with a young girl who also “shines” forces him to reconcile his past and together they fight an evil known as “The True Knot.”
The big-screen version of Doctor Sleep picks up with Wendy and Danny Torrance right after events at the Overlook Hotel. The big surprise here is that they are not played by the original actors. We even see Danny pedaling his Big-Wheel through those familiar Overlook hallways, but it’s a completely different child. This is off-putting at first, but it’s also a way to reinforce that Doctor Sleep is NOT The Shining.
Do not go into Doctor Sleep expecting The Shining because you will be severely disappointed.
The Shining is a damn-near perfect film and a modern horror masterpiece. Comparing any movie to it is simply unfair.
One truly fun aspect of Doctor Sleep is that we get revisit The Shining while hearing a fresh story with new and interesting characters. In fact, Doctor Sleep is at it’s best when focusing on Danny (played by a gorgeously disheveled Ewan McGregor) and his developing friendship with young Abra (feisty newcomer Kyliegh Curran). The movie-version of “The True Knot” is gaudily repugnant, from their heading-to-Burning-Man wardrobes to the way they suck the “shine” from their victims, like horny vampires. You’ll root for their demise from the start, especially Rebecca Ferguson’s obnoxious “Rose the Hat.”
Doctor Sleep tries a bit too hard to bring it all back to the Overlook hotel, and revisiting those old ghosts actually detracts from the new story. It is deliciously terrifying to walk its darkened halls again though, even if the monsters don’t scare the way they used to. (B-)
Parent Review: If your kids are fans of The Shining (or of Stephen King in general) they’ll probably ask to see this one. Doctor Sleep is rated R for “disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use.” The nudity comes in the form of an overdose victim early in the film, but mostly from that bathtub-zombie we’re all familiar with by now. The violence is extensive, with The Walking Dead levels of blood and gore throughout, but one scene was almost unbearable for me. “The True Knot” victimize children and, at one point, murder a boy played by Jacob Tremblay. It is graphic and truly horrifying. It’s also the reason I’m not recommending Doctor Sleep to anyone under 15. As always, see it without your kids beforehand if you are unsure.
Doctor Sleep opens nationwide (in theaters only) November 8th.

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