Movie review: “Doctor Sleep”

Madison Diemert
Editor in Chief

“Doctor Sleep”, Stephen King’s latest movie adaption to the same novel hit theatres last Thursday with high anticipation. As the sequel to King’s classic The Shining and having the novel’s success backing it, the movie was assumed to be a hit.

That was true for many critics and moviegoers. The film was well-received by the likes of Rotten Tomatoes (4/5), Roger Ebert (4/5), IMDb (7.7/10), and more. But the film disappointed its producers as it only made $14.1 million on its opening night, compared to the expected $25 million it was supposed to make. 

It’s still an odd thing for the sequel to one of King’s most famous works to bomb at the box office. But as to what most of the critics have to say, I would agree with them. 

The film is fantastic, from Ewan McGregor playing an older Danny Torrance to his co-star and fellow Shiner, Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran). The two suddenly become Uncle Dan and niece Abra, when Abra somehow makes a connection to Dan through their Shine. From there, they go on a journey to protect Abra and find Danny’s true purpose in life, outside of helping the elderly pass on with his Shine.  

The two actors complimented each other and created chemistry that was unmatched. As Danny fights to save Abra from Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her ghastly crew, you can feel them working like a well-oiled machine. 

The antagonists were also perhaps the most interesting part of the story. Rose the Hat, a psychic vampire (sort of), and her family of the same likeness hunt down Abra for a taste of her powers. The three characters battle it out with their Shine, taking it from inside their heads, to the outside world. 

The film incorporated the magic of The Shining right from the beginning, making that the main plot point of the movie. Whereas The Shining’s true focus was on Jack and his sanity slowly crumbling as he terrorized his family. 

This makes Doctor Sleep almost feel like it’s from an entirely different franchise with the way that it focuses on Dan and Abra’s Shining, along with featuring a villain such as Rose—who, by the way, eats the “steam” of people who shine. 

For those who didn’t enjoy the movie, that’s where much of the gripe comes in. Empire says that the movie isn’t “particularly scary or unsetling,” and that “anyone expecting a straightforward Shining sequel will be disappointed. This isn’t a grueling exercise in pure horror.” 

This is true, as the movie feels like more of an adventure-thriller genre than horror. But even though it is different from King’s first film, it is still worth seeing. It perhaps would have been a better, more successful movie (and book) if it had been an original work outside of the horror classic. 

Header photo courtesy of Doctor Sleep’s Facebook page.

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