Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep ★★★★

From my review of The Shining from yesterday:

I'm cautiously optimistic for Doctor Sleep. I do wonder how it will deal with changes in this film from the book. The trailer looked very interesting, but I'm managing my expectations in case of disappointment.

I'm pleased to state that my caution and managed expectations were unnecessary, as Doctor Sleep fulfilled everything I could've hoped from it and more.

Handling the changes from The Shining's novel and film continuities very well, I will state that this film leans slightly more towards Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and I believe that to be a wise decision. Recreating the iconic scenes, borrowing from the soundtrack and reusing the excellent visuals served this film immensely in my opinion. There are so many excellent little callbacks to Kubrick's film, some more pronounced than others; little things such as Doctor John Dalton's office being near identical to Stuart Ullman's for example. And those little touches really went a long way.

Despite its reliance on the elements present in The Shining, Doctor Sleep felt like a complete and fulfilling story that non-fans would enjoy and it's a very accessible film in that regard. The runtime was lengthy but I believe it was warranted, as there was very little I felt could have reasonably been left on the cutting room floor. It was a complete and satisfying tale, unique in tone and brilliant in its delivery.

As for the performances, Ewan McGregor really blew me away in his portrayal of an adult Danny Torrance, coming across as a rightfully troubled yet uniquely caring and selfless individual, which is exactly what I would have expected from the character. Carl Lumbly's portrayal of Dick Hollorann felt well handled and respectful. I enjoyed Rebecca Ferguson as 'Rose the Hat', who was brilliantly sinister yet alluring, and Kyliegh Curran as the young protagonist 'Abra Stone'. And I always adore seeing Carel Struycken in everything he's in, as he played one of my favourite characters from Twin Peaks.

Overall, I feel like Doctor Sleep's casting was excellent and there were no obvious missteps. Despite sharing in the visuals, the main characters have of course been re-cast since Kubrick's film, but it's delivered in such a way that who they are supposed to be is very clear, with perhaps one exception that is then explained through exposition shortly thereafter.

Of the films directed by Mike Flanagan, I have enjoyed them all, but Doctor Sleep is definitely my new favourite of his. Kudos to him for handling a sequel to one of the most adored horror movies of all time by one of the greatest directors of all time, and actually pulling it off gracefully. As I stated previously, there are lots of callbacks, so it rightfully feels like a huge love letter and I'm certainly not opposed to that.

The best Stephen King adaptation this year. I'm pleased I got to see this one in the cinema, and I'm more than eager to revisit it as soon as it gets a Blu-ray release.