Decades after The Shining, young psychic Danny Torrance has grown up with the trauma from the events of the Overlook hotel. After battling addiction and isolation, he makes ‘shining’ contact with a psychic girl named Abra Stone. She has become a target for The True Knot - a cult that feeds off children with the ‘shining’ to stay immortal.
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining has become widely known as one of the greatest horror films of all time. To this day there are countless articles, videos, and documentaries being made trying to decipher all the unanswered questions in the film.
The film has even outgrown Stephen King’s book in popularity. King had publicly said that he was dissatisfied with Kubrick’s film, feeling it ruined the main themes as well as the depiction and casting of Jack and Wendy Torrance. He did manage to produce a miniseries more faithful to his book in 1997, which was viewed unfavorably compared to the film.
Stephen King then revisited The Shining universe in 2013 and wrote a sequel to his book. Director Mike Flanagan - who has made a success in the horror genre with Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil – was a big fan of King’s work and had already faithfully adapted his book Gerald’s Game. Flanagan took on the big challenge of making a sequel to Kubrick’s film and an adaptation of the sequel to the book.
Not an easy task – but thankfully Flanagan pulls it off.
What made this a success is that Flanagan doesn’t over-rely on the original film, the story works standalone. Scenes from the original were recreated which serves as both nostalgia for the fans and fill in gaps for new viewers. Flanagan also does not try to imitate Kubrick’s filmmaking; he keeps it fresh with his own style.
Ewan McGregor is excellent in the role of Danny Torrance, very convincing as the older version of the little boy in the original. Playing the multiple layers of dealing with his childhood trauma, living with his ‘shining’ and overcoming addiction after hitting rock bottom – with so many complexities McGregor makes the character very likable. Rebecca Fergusson was absolutely chilling as Rose the Hat, the leader of The Knot Club, who is pure evil. Kyliegh Curran as young psychic Abra delivers a fantastic performance for such a young actress.
The recreated scenes from The Shining and the additional scene with the recast actors are a little bit distracting. Jack Nicolson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd’s performances were so iconic no one could really replace them. But the film doesn’t focus on them too much and keeps the focus on adult Danny, Abra, and The True Knot.
I’ve not read the book Doctor Sleep, so I can’t comment on how faithful it is, however, this film does have more vibes of a Stephen King film much more than the first film. In fact, this film actually has a nod to King’s version of The Shining by bringing over a plot element straight from the book that was completely absent from Kubrick’s film.
The film is not likely to please everyone if you’re a fan of Kubrick’s The Shining it’s certainly worth seeing for the recreation of the iconic moments and locations, also if you’re interested in seeing where Danny ends up as an adult. But you may be underwhelmed with Flanagan moving away from Kubrick’s style and incorporating a lot more of the supernatural elements from King’s universe. If you’re a King fan, you would be impressed by how this film compromises Kubrick’s film with King’s style and maybe even feel it redeems the changes Kubrick made if you’re a fan of the original book.
Be warned this is a pure horror film and not for the easily disturbed. This film does not hold back at all. Without spoiling anything, there is a particular death scene that is one of the most difficult things I’ve seen in a film. And I’m sure without a doubt offended some viewers.
Written by Jack Parish