Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep


Watching a sequel can sometimes feel like wandering down the carpeted hallways of a familiar place. Doctor Sleep, an unearned and cringeworthy follow-up to The Shining, is this idea made flesh. It feels more like a theme-park experience than an actual movie, deploying the 1980 horror classic’s butchered twin sisters and a blood-gushing elevator on cue, but without any purpose. You could call it fan service, if the service is to teach fans that mimicking Stanley Kubrick’s chilly elegance – and even reshooting scenes from the original film with look-alike actors, a crime that’s almost unforgivable – doesn’t make your take nearly as scary.

The mimicker in this case, director Mike Flanagan, should know better. His multi-episode TV version of The Haunting of Hill House showed him nailing a similar assignment, finding a side door into a revered novel while supplying fresh chills. This time, though, he’s saddled with weak material, namely Stephen King’s own 2013 continuation, a book that sagged with unusual obviousness.

Wide-eyed Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is all grown up now, and struggling, just like his dad did. He finds himself joining The Stand-like fight against a roving pack of evil essence-suckers, led by Rose (Rebecca Ferguson), whose alt-country black hat and crazy eyes make her look like a reject from an episode of The Voice.

Flanagan pumps up the nostalgic sonic assault – Wendy Carlos’s ominous synth burbles, pounding heartbeats in your head – but his most unnerving moment is a quiet one – Rose floating high above the suburbs on a night prowl, looking for others who shine.

Mostly, however, the new film is a dutiful delivery device for Warner Bros. intellectual property.

For all of its supernatural majesty, The Shining, both on the page and on screen, was about writer’s block and the secret fear of being discovered as a fraud. Doctor Sleep is unwittingly about that as well. The digital recreation of the snowy Overlook Hotel is  tombstone to itself.

Mike Flanagan

Out now

By Joshua Rothkoph | 07 Nov 2019


Doctor Sleep
DirectorMike Flanagan
CastingRebecca Ferguson, Ewan McGregor, Jacob Tremblay