Published on November 19, 2019
November 8, 2019
Doctor Sleep (2019) Film Review
Want to discover what alcoholic drifter Jack Torrance’s son has become and how his sack of troubles led him to soothe the dying? Well, wonder no more; Mike Flanagan (“The Haunting of Hill House”) has brought this needless sequel to life for your viewing pleasure.
Stanley Kubrick’s (“A Clockwork Orange”) “The Shining” was a masterpiece of modern day cinema, nevertheless it didn’t leave its audience with any real burning desire to want to know whatever happened to Danny (Danny Lloyd), due to him being the film’s least engaging character, ranking well behind non-developed characters like the withered hag (Billie Gibson) and the twins (Lisa and Louise Burns) of the bloodied corridor.
However, Stephen King, who venomously declared Kubrick’s film adaption of his novel a complete bastardisation, feels we should, and thereon in we have been given the belated sequel “Doctor Sleep”. “Doctor Sleep” follows Danny (Ewan McGregor), or Dan as he’s best known here, who’s now all grown up. After his “Overlook Hotel” ordeal Dan is now a fully-fledged member of the hedonistic club; he’s a hard drinker that regularly rounds off his evenings with a bar fight and sharing his bed with a local stranger. Eventually Danny, who carries a rucksack of troubles, wariness, self-pity, exhaustion, sadness and a royal bitch of a hangover, comes to the realisation that he needs to straighten out his life or die trying, so he gets a job in a hospice, where he uses his telepathy to soothe the dying.
Like most of Stephen King’s adaptions, “IT 2” being the worst offender, tranquility’s tide turns with Danny being thrown into hell’s mouth melodrama of “Days of Our Lives” proportions when a young girl (Kyliegh Curran) interrupts his newly found idyll through telepathic communication, drawing the attention of The True Knot, a rag-tag gang of psychic leeches led by Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who absorb victims’ life force.
“Doctor Sleep” isn’t particularly scary and as a follow-up to Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece it is an undeniable let-down. However, what it does have going for it in the box office stakes is credible characterisation and an interesting mythology with another glimpse at Mike Flanagan’s (“The Haunting of Hill House”) directing promise, who allowed his quality to slide with the release of “Ouija: Origin of Evil”.
Much like Tobe Hooper’s 1985 SciFi thriller “LifeForce”, The True Knot aren’t your traditional blood-drinking, daylight-dodging vampires, but a form of vampire that see themselves as a more superior breed of the species, who spend much of the film’s running time complaining around campfires and churning out threats of going all acoustic on its audience’s ass, a fright that immediately transported me right back to “The Howling: New Moon Rising”, leaving me muttering, “Oh dear God no, haven’t we suffered enough?!”
Doctor Sleep is an inferior sequel to one of my all-time favourite psychological horrors. Much like King’s TV adaption of his source material, “Doctor Sleep” fails to match Kubrick’s nightmarish vision, reminding the audience what a visionary director he truly was.