Doctor Sleep

2019 | Dir: Mike Flanagan | Wri: Mike Flanagan, Stephen King (novel) | UK, Canada, USA

Screenshot from Doctor Sleep

It’s not that Doctor Sleep does gross injustice to its source novel or to The Shining (both film and novel). It does a gross injustice to horror genre in general. It is a rudderless, meandering mess that doesn’t have a direction, it changes gears oh-so-suddenly just to progress the plot. It’s one of the very worst horror films I have seen in a long time.

Years after the horrific events at the Overlook Hotel, Danny (played by Ewan McGregor), is an alcoholic in search of a new life in a small New Hampshire town. After relying on the kindness of strangers, Danny turns his life around. Meanwhile, a clan of supernatural evil beings are kidnapping and killing children to feast on their fears and pain. But they come across a child that is much stronger than anything they have seen and this child also happens to be in contact with Danny, or shine with him, if you like.

This tenuous relationship between the three camps was much more convincing in the novel. Here we just take it for granted. It might be that the filmmakers thought familiarity with The Shining would help clear these, but that is self-destructing as what both films (or source novels share) are only in the surface, with duplicate sets.

Even though it’s quite contemplative in parts, it spends a feature-length to actually get the story in motion and when it does, it’s too anxious to bring us to an all familiar setting. What made the books and the prequel was that there is an impending doom, we see things progressing naturally (so to speak) and the terror is all palpable. Here, it feels like we’re rushing to a conclusion. And that conclusion is weak at best.

I didn’t have too many expectations as following up a bone fide horror classic can never be easy, but without even comparing Doctor Sleep to The Shining, it’s not difficult to see that this was a missed opportunity.