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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Review: Doctor Sleep

Director: Mike Flanagan
Screenplay: Mike Flanagan
Year: 2019

When in 1977 the famous horror writer Stephen King published the book “The Shining” and later when in 1980 Stanley Kubrick made its film adaptation, which turned out to be a classic of the genre, no one imagined that a sequel of either could be made. It wasn’t until 2013, 36 years later that the brilliant mind of King took this task and he published the sequel titled “Doctor Sleep”. In 2019, from the hand of director and screenwriter Mike Flanagan, the moment has come to adapt that sequel, 39 years after Kubrick’s iconic movie.

Danny Torrance lives his adulthood fighting against the same demos his father fought both literally and figurative, something he tried to improve by quitting alcohol and finding a stable job. On the other hand, Abra is a child with a great ability, reminiscent of that of Danny, and that has not gone unnoticed by a group of people that looks for this kind of talent and not with the best intentions in mind. Danny and Abra get together thanks to their ability and fight against this group, which makes him relive bad memories from his past.

Mike Flanagan has kept making excellent horror movies, including titles like “Absentia”, “Oculus”, “Hush”, and “Gerald’s Game”, as well as the Netflix series “The Haunting on Hill House”. This time he ventures with a bolder and riskier project with “Doctor Sleep”, where he has the weight of making justice to King’s book, something he is familiar with after doing “Gerald’s Game”, and of his movie being compared with Kubrick’s classic. This last task isn’t easy, as “The Shining” is considered a cinema classic and one of the best horror movies ever made, although Stephen King does not agree with this argument.

Expecting this movie to be better than “The Shining” would be an unnecessary disservice for the movie and director as well as for the viewer. At this moment in time is better to be aware that the Work of Kubrick is out of the reach of many filmmakers and accept the changes that inevitably will come with a sequel being done so many years later and with a different director. I don’t want to underestimate a director as capable as Flanagan, who has managed to make many excellent titles in this genre, and “Doctor Sleep” is another to add to this list.

In his intention for paying homage to King, Flanagan focuses on one of the principal characteristics of the works of King, which is character development. As usually happens in the works of King, in this movie we have well-developed characters and we understand their actions and motivations. The character development is complemented by excellent acting from the whole cast, starring Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”) and Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission: Impossible - Fallout”) interpreting Danny Torrance and Rose The Hat, but is Kyliegh Curran (“I Can I Will I Did”) in her interpretation of Abra Stone who stands out in this section.

On the other hand, it also seeks to homage Kubrick by using some characteristic audiovisual techniques from this director, as well as some particularly from “The Shining”. Without the intention of spoiling anything important from the movie, we get to see again the famous Overlook hotel, the iconic aerial scene of the car driving thought the Colorado mountains and the well-known music that accompanies this scene. Flanagan even uses some scenes directly from Kubrick’s film in the way of flashbacks that are well placed within its story.

Instead of comparing “Doctor Sleep” with “The Shining” I prefer to say that this is a worthy sequel to Kubrick’s classic. The effort Flanagan puts to homage King and Kubrick is evident, but he achieves this without putting his style at risk and creating a magnificent horror movie. The only thing left to say is that this is a movie that fans of King, “The Shining” and previous works of Flanagan will certainly enjoy.

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