Movie Review: “Doctor Sleep”

In May of 1980, the world was filled with fear by director Stanley Kubrick. After the release of Kubrick’s “The Shining,” audiences were subjected to seeing fears that they could previously only see in their minds or read in a book. The movie in question is based on Steven King’s novel of the same name. The film starred Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance, Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance, and Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann. With such a small cast the movie was intimate and brought the horror to a personal and intrusive level. After such a visually stunning film that was a hit amongst critics and audiences, a sequel was a no brainer. However, no sequel book was written until the fall of 2013.

“Doctor Sleep,” written again by Steven King as a direct sequel to “The Shining,” directed by Mike Flanagan, follows the child, Danny, from the first film, this time played by Ewan McGregor, and sees him grown up and still troubled by his traumatic childhood. Danny found out that he “Shined,” which is a sixth sense that allows one to communicate with the dead, communicate with others that have the shining.

The movie starts out with a quick reminder of the ending of the first movie and shows us what has happened to Danny and his mother. They have gotten on fairly well and Danny has even been able to grow his knowledge and his power over the shining. However, over time this becomes too much for Danny and he becomes an alcoholic, similar to his father before him, and had become more violent and less stable. After leaving the current place he calls “home,” he comes to a town, joins an AA group and starts over. He becomes more responsible and stops drinking and also gains a sort of pen-pal relationship with someone through the shining. The job he has taken up puts him as a hospice worker that, because of the shining, gives him a chance to calm people before they die because of his power. After a time, his pen-pal learns that there is a group of people that tracks down those with the shining and must be stopped before two of them are killed. 

The movie overall is well-written and the characters are intriguing. The one fault I must give the movie is that without the knowledge of the first movie, some of the references and story arcs will be lost. With that being said, the movie is made for the fans of the first. The characters have their own characteristics and traits that don’t seem to blend in and that each stand out in their own ways. No two characters are alike and seeing how they interact with each other is truly interesting. I personally wanted to see more of how their personalities mesh or clash. Just like the first, this movie is a deep dive into the mind of the tortured person, either with alcoholism, their own past, or how they deal with their powers that make them unique. 

“The Shining” and “Doctor Sleep” are horror movies; however, they are psychological horror in the way we see these characters’ minds pulled apart and go insane or how they resist the temptations of the world. I personally would recommend this movie to anyone that likes horror, psychology, or well-written movies. Some will like it, some will not, but I would suggest watching “The Shining” and then enjoying the sequel, “Doctor Sleep.”