Review: “Doctor Sleep” is a decent sequel to “The Shining”


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep.”

Margaret Troup

Director Mike Flanagan’s film “Doctor Sleep” released to theaters on Nov. 8, and is a solid follow-up to its horror classic predecessor. 

“Doctor Sleep” is based on the 2013 Stephen King of the same name. It is a canon sequel to “The Shining” (1977), another one of King’s horror novels. This film follows an adult Danny Torrance as he deals with both figurative and literal ghosts from his past experiences at the Overlook Hotel. Torrance must protect 13-year-old and fellow shiner Abra, from a gang of Shine-eating cannibals.

Right off the bat, this film begins with a sense of unease. Immediate call backs to “The Shining” film (1980) within the opening credits gives die-hard King fans creepy nostalgia.

Despite its presence in the movie, “Doctor Sleep” doesn’t rely too heavily on jump scares or gore. This film does a good job creating a scary atmosphere based on the world-building and story-telling. The additional jump scares and gore only spice up the occasionally slow sections. 

Additional aspects to this movie that adds to the suspense is its wonderful sound design. Subtle sounds such as heartbeats that play in the background add to the building anxiety.

While this film is a psychological thriller with supernatural elements, that does not mean it doesn’t include real-life horrors. Similarly to King’s other works, such as “IT: Chapter 2,” this film incorporates plausible tragedies that could happen to anyone. Multiple characters, including children, are kidnapped and murdered in this movie. The realistic displays of the terror and stress that this situation would bring to a person, and especially a child, is particularly gut-wrenching. 

With all of this said, “Doctor Sleep” does have a few pitfalls, the biggest perpetrator being the disjointed pacing in the beginning of the movie. For the first 30 minutes or so, the audience is being introduced to the main antagonists of the movie, of which there are many as they all reside in a cult-like gang. It is probably easier to follow along with who’s who and what their motivations are if viewers read the book first. 

The arguably best part of this movie outweigh the worst parts though. That is, the likeness of new actors to their 1980 counterparts. Alex Essoe portrays Wendy Torrance in multiple early scenes. Her physical and vocal similarity to Shelley Duvall is uncanny. Additionally, Thomas Downing, who plays Lloyd the Bartender, is meant to strike similarities to Jack Nicholson and he does so very convincingly.  

“Doctor Sleep” provides a scary and stressful movie-going experience without it being too much like its 1980 predecessor.