Review By Liam Williams (Ireland)
Overview – Doctor Sleep is a 2019 movie based off the writings of Stephen King, Doctor Sleep follows the story of Danny Torrance after the happenings of the 1980 movie by Stanley Kubrick called The Shining. It follows a grown up Dan Torrance (as Danny goes by now) and his attempt to lead a normal life and try and leave his shining behind, however Dan gets roped into a deadly situation where he must protect a young girl named Abra with the strongest shining he has ever from the dangerous group only know as the True Knot.
Doctor Sleep – The disappointment that overcame me while watching this movie was astounding. First and foremost, I did read the book, this is what made me excited for the movie however I knew that the movie would be far different as the movie for The Shining was far different from the book. I only mention the book because this review will be solely based on movie points and nothing to do with the book as they are two completely separate mediums.
Firstly, the issue of writing for Abra Stone. The attempt to pass Abra off as an intelligent young girl instead makes her look like an emotionless beast who doesn’t even take the time to grieve the death of her father. Apparently, the writers of the movie think “being smart” means being a 40 year-old because that’s how this young girl acts throughout the whole movie. She never shows fear, sadness, disgust. Abra shows no emotion bar “determination”, it is completely unrealistic when you compare her to Danny Torrance in The Shining, who, while being bright enough to outsmart his father in the maze, showed fear when confronted by the ghost at the Overlook Hotel and his deranged father. He still made mistakes, like entering the room he was told not to by Dick like a child would. Abra Stone does not have these necessary flaws in this movie which leaves it feeling very void of emotions at certain points.
Next, we have the True Knot, yes, the scariest villains in any movie who are just trying to get a snack the whole time. Heavy sarcasm is being applied here. Comparing the ghosts in the first film who passively fed of Danny’s shining, and Jack who is slowly being driven insane by both the spirits and the hotel itself which drives him to try and kill his family. In the True Knot we just have a bunch of old people who kill kids and eat their steam, the only one we do get a bit of motivation on is Andi. This is a complete departure from the character driven story of The Shining, we are given empty husks labelled “BAD GUYS” to root against. We don’t even get 80% of their names, would it have been that hard to have a small introduction scene for Andi and the audience to give us a bit more world building. Rose the Hat, spends most of her time sitting on a roof with no shoes on. At no point during the whole movie did I feel she was in the least bit a threat to our main characters. This is saying a lot when only one of them is alive at the end.
Now the end, let’s talk about the end. One of the most pandering terrible endings to a movie I have ever seen, firstly they kill of the main baddie in like 50 seconds so they can quickly move on to homages for The Shining. The scene where Dan talks to his father was beyond confusing, because they couldn’t even get Jack Nicholson to come back to shoot a couple of scenes, I didn’t know that it was supposed to be Jack Torrance till someone told me later. Then they completely throw any semblance of respect they had for The Shining out the window as Dan becomes “possessed” by the hotel, not in the subtle way Jack Torrance had by being slowly manipulated by the hotel to do its deeds. No, Dan’s eyes just turn milky white and he chases Abra around with an axe, like The Shining, yay.
The movie wasn’t all bad though, Ewan McGregor gave a good performance as Dan Torrance. That whole scene with Deenie and the kid was heart wrenching. Kyliegh Curran who played Abra Stone did the best with what she was given which helped improve her character a bit at least. Some of the subtle homages to The Shining were entertaining, like the doctor’s office being the same one from the beginning of The Shining.
That’s why I only gave Doctor Sleep a 2 out of 5, not worth buying popcorn and tickets for, but may be worth a watch if it was on TV.