If you are a fan of dark, disturbing and twisted stories then you undoubtedly are a fan of author Stephen King. With best-selling books like Pet Sematary, Carrie, It, Cujo, Misery, etc. he has etched his permanent place in literary society for generations to come. With so many of his novels having been adapted into movies, he has also created a catalog of truly scary and warped films.Perhaps one of the best movies made from one of his novels was 1983's The Shining. Under the eye of the brilliant director Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange), the movie became a classic known for its unsettling images, exceptional performances and haunting soundtrack. Thirty-six years later, King's sequel to The Shining novel, titled Doctor Sleep, has been adapted into a major motion picture that is set to be released in early November of this year.
At the end of the Shining, Jack Torrance dies as Danny (played by Ewan McGregor; Moulin Rouge!) and his mother, Wendy (Shelley Duvall; Popeye), take the snowcat and drive away from the overlook hotel. Thirty-plus years later, Danny is a drifter and an alcoholic who ends up in New Hampshire. There he gets and stays sober for a number of years. Suddenly, he starts getting contacted by a little girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran; I can, I will, I did) who also has the same powers that Danny does…"The Shining".
As Abra and Danny grow closer she witnesses a young boy, who also has "the shine" being kidnapped and murdered by The True Knot, a group of semi-immortal beings who feed of the "steam" (think aura) of those who shine. Their leader, Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson; The Greatest Showman) sees Abra, is in awe of her immense power and decides she wants to have Abra so Rose can drain her steam. As Rose and her group get closer Danny, Abra, and Abra's father must lay a trap for them which gets most of them killed. Seeking revenge and still desiring Abra's steam, Rose follows Danny and Abra to the overlook hotel for a final showdown with the powerful semi-immortal.
McGregor always gives a wonderful performance whether he is a song and dance man or if, in this case, he is a tortured and broken man trying to outrun his past. He is a terrific choice to play the adult Danny. Ferguson is good as Rose, the leader of a band of supernatural gypsies who are little more than kidnappers and murderers. Curran, however, "shines" (pun intended) as the young girl with great power who doesn't seem to fear it but rather embraces her talent.
Supporting cast members Carl Lumbly (Alias), Emily Alyn Lind (Revenge), Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider) and Zahn McClarnon (Longmire) all add to the film with solid and memorable performances.
If one goes into the movie with high expectations and determined to compare it to The Shining, they will be terribly disappointed. First off, The Shining is a masterpiece that will be studied in film classes for generations with Kubrick as the puppet master and second, while The Shining was a psychological thriller with some horror thrown in here and there, Doctor Sleep is more of a supernatural drama.
The Shining is a masterpiece and a brilliant work that deserves its place amongst the best of the best. Doctor Sleep is somewhat entertaining and interesting but cannot, in any way, compare to its predecessor. However, fans of the novel and of the first film should definitely see this movie in order to complete the set.
Doctor Sleep has impossible shoes to fill and could never match The Shining but as a stand-alone film, it is entertaining.