It lives up to the Stanley Kubrick classic in almost every way.
We all can’t resist the true horrors inside Stephen King’s “The Shining.” The nostalgia it has sparked, the memorable characters it has introduced, and the frightening nightmares it delves into. My favorite moments from Stanley Kubrick’s classic would pertain to the blood elevator, Scatman Crothers’ Dick Hallorann cook character walking down the quiet lobby until Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance axes him to death, his iconic “Here’s Johnny” line, and the immensely creepy July 4, 1921 Overlook Hotel photo.
The book has sparked a sequel in 2013 known as “Doctor Sleep,” which focuses on young Danny Torrance with the Shining (telekinetic powers) gift in his adulthood, and introduced to readers the True Knot cult, which feasts on special kids. You know what I mean by “special.” Danny was the lucky one they never found.
The movie is almost as terrifying and poignant as it’s predecessor, because of the evils inside, and its strong ability to travel to the past. Meaning: we get to see classic scenes and locations that aren’t tainted for the new generation. And we also get to see where Danny Torrance’s tale will lead to.
The leader of the cult is Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who wears a top hat, and has her ways of luring kids into her clutches. She says: “Pain purifies steam,” and that’s how she and her tribe murders them. They’re sucking the fear out of them.
Ewan McGregor stars as the adult Danny, who suffers from alcoholism, following his horrifying childhood experiences at the Overlook Hotel. He arrives in a New Hampshire town, where meets a new friend named Billy (Cliff Curtis), and begins attending AA meetings. This is the least interesting aspect of the film, because of how it presents itself. He comes out sober, but the REDRUM comes back to haunt him.
He also meets a young girl named Abra Stone (newcomer Kyliegh Curran), who also has the Shining gift. She knows about this sinister cult, and therefore, Rose plans to capture her. That is unless she’s able to turn the tables on her.
“Doctor Sleep” continues the story about Danny’s telekinetic abilities by allowing him to fight the past and meet another one just like him. McGregor is fine with his emotions, and he never tries to be better than the original child actor Danny Lloyd.
It also digs deeper into the evil that Stephen King has created by introducing us to a wicked cult such as True Knot. Ferguson is devilishly clever as the leader, and I admire how her character never underestimates her enemies, and struggles to feed her kind.
But mostly, I was impressed with how compelling the new Shining generation is without all those generic millennial amenities and dialogue. Abra Stone matches the young Danny’s fears, and Curran is perfect as her.
The nostalgia I’m pontificating includes the art direction, characters, score (composed by The Newton Brothers), and faithfulness. For instance, Carl Lumbly (“Alias”) does a fine job capturing Crothers’ vibes as Hallorann’s spirit. In fact, some of the actors almost look like the original cast. And even after all these years, the Overlook Hotel still looks beautiful.
Kudos to director Mike Flannigan for helping Stephen King bring the magic and nightmares back with “Doctor Sleep.”