Doctor Sleep (2019) – Review, Summary (with Spoilers)

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While this feels like a very unnecessary sequel, between Ewan McGregor and Kyliegh Curran, they find a means to justify this 2 and a half hour movie.


Director(s) Mike Flanagan
Screenplay By Mike Flanagan
Date Released (Theatrical) 11/8/2019
Genre(s) Action, Horror
Good If You Like
  • Seeing A Kid Take On Adults And Often Besting Them
  • The Idea Of A Very Loosely Connected Story To The Shining
Noted Cast
Danny Ewan McGregor
Abra Kyliegh Curran
Rose Rebecca Ferguson
Snakebite Andi Emily Alyn Lind
Bradley Jacob Tremblay
Grampa Flick Carel Struycken
Dick Carl Lumbly

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Plot Summary/ Review

More than 30 years after the events of The Shining, Danny finds himself an alcoholic and someone with little to no human connections. Plus, with his mother dead for more than a decade, he lacks a connection to any place or anywhere. However, this disconnect ends thanks to Abra, a talented young lady who, around the age of 5, starts talking to Danny and physically meets him 8 years later.

Why? Well, there is a woman named Rose, alongside others, who hunt those with what Danny calls “The Shining.” The way it is explained to us, there are multiple types of “The Shining.” Some, like Snakebite Andi, are pushers, who can coerce you to do as you please. Others, like Bradley, and Danny, are lookers. The type who can read and enter people’s minds. But then there are those like Abra. She is something special since her powers allow her to be a looker, and she has some offensive powers as well.

With that in mind, she becomes highly valuable to Rose, and her crew, for they live off the souls of those who have “The Shining” to give them nearly everlasting life. In fact, one of them, Grampa Flick, seemingly has been around since the Roman empire was at its height. Which makes a little girl with such strength a rare delicacy, and it pushes Danny out of isolation to save this little girl despite his belief that hiding is the best safety.

Highlights

A Black Girl Kicking Ass In A Horror Movie

I absolutely adored Curran. Be it due to her having a Taylor Russell vibe or just seeing this 13-year-old Black girl, with magic powers, take on these adults and generally whoop their ass. There is just something about that combo which makes you proud and considering how well she holds her own when facing off against Rebecca Ferguson, or how well she plays with Ewan McGregor, it really does show that for Black actresses, their future is bright, diverse, and surely won’t be as limited as past generations.

Despite The Time Length, You Don’t Really Feel A Need To Check Your Phone

Two hours is a long commitment to ask for. Two hours and thirty minutes is even more insane since it isn’t like there was a huge demand for a sequel to The Shining like IT! Chapter 2 or the recent Avengers movie. Yet, despite a sparse connection to the original, between Curran, McGregor, and Ferguson, they somehow keep you thoroughly entertained throughout that whole time. Not to the point you’d want a sequel, but just enough to say this film could have been good without its loose connection to The Shining.

On The Fence

It’s Not That Scary

There are, at best, 4 jump scares, and the rest of the film is more so creepy in minor ways or battle scenes. The kind that is more about who can manipulate who better, as well as a gunfight here and there, than major, big-budget, fight scenes which leave you in awe. But, considering the first film wasn’t really that big on combat, and people weren’t as desensitized as they are today, could Doctor Sleep really compete?

It Is So Loosely Connected To The Original You Question Why Not Make It An Original Property?

Note: I haven’t seen the original in years, but I remember watching it as a teen, and between Jack Nicholson and the supernatural presences, I was thoroughly creeped out. Which makes this story that jumps ahead decades, and doesn’t feature the hotel until the end, seem like it is trying to milk the association. Almost like how Sony has to release a Spiderman movie every few years to keep the license, you get this vibe Warner Brothers made this movie to keep a hold of whatever license they may have for The Shining or the works of Stephen King.

For truly, change Danny’s name, call the magic he shares with many of the cast to something else, and don’t reference the events of The Shining, and the film doesn’t lose much. I mean, I could be wrong, but the original movie didn’t really talk about how there are a large number of people with magical abilities and how some hunt others to be borderline immortal. All of that is built into Doctor Sleep and connected to The Shining to piggyback off the name recognition.

But, with that said, even without that lead-in, I think this film could have attracted an audience.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Where Doctor Sleep stumbles is that it is advertised as a horror movie, but it isn’t scary at all. If anything, it is a low thrills action film that tries to siphon off the name recognition of The Shining to draw an audience. Making it so, as much as you have to love Curran, McGregor, and Ferguson, you do feel a bit cheated because the sell is one thing, and what is delivered is a completely different film.

Hence the mixed label. Doctor Sleep is a decent film that seemingly didn’t have enough people who had faith in it so that it could just be an original property. Thus loose connections were made to The Shining, and that led to a film that fails to meet expectations and that failure is so great you are unsure if the film delivered can be seen as good or not.

 

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