For once, a sequel released several decades after the original is actually worth your while. “Doctor Sleep” is a fine continuation of “The Shining.”
Whereas “The Shining” is one of the greatest psychological horror films of all time, “Doctor Sleep” is more of a tense thriller, with just a dash of superhero movie added to the mix.
The new movie also uses “The Shining” to enhance its story rather than just copying and pasting what worked before. “Doctor Sleep” shows the proper amount of respect to the original.
And it has some fun with “The Shining” as well.
Nearly 40 years after his father went crazy in “The Shining”, the young Danny Torrance has grown into a middle-aged man who tries to bury his demons at the bottom of a bottle. But into his life comes a cult of energy vampires who feast on anyone who possesses the powers of the Shining, and they’re targeting a young girl named Abra.
It’s going to be up to Danny and his own Shining powers to stop the bad guys and save the little girl. And he just might know of a certain spooky hotel that will make for a good battleground.
Most of “Doctor Sleep” is a slow, simmering movie as it builds up the danger of the cult and puts Danny Torrance into a place where he can do some good. Actor Ewan McGregor brings his usual charm to the adult Danny, and it’s always nice to see someone pick themselves up from rock bottom and make something of their lives.
The energy vampire cult is also quite monstrous, but if I’m being honest, there’s also an overall silliness that “Doctor Sleep” can’t quite shake. “The Shining” is known for Jack Nicholson’s powerhouse performance of a man going mad in a really creepy hotel. The fact that the young boy in “The Shining” had super-powers, and that the movie was named after those powers, always seemed like an after thought.
But now, “Doctor Sleep” is all about those powers. The cult drinks the Shine out of their victims, and they mostly target children, so they are just brutal. Then you’ve got the girl, Abra, and Danny using things like telekinesis, telepathy and mind control to do battle with these bad guys, and it couldn’t be further from a deranged Jack Nicholson with an ax.
Despite how wild the film can sometimes get with the super-powers, “Doctor Sleep” brings it all together in a truly chilling and exciting climax. The movie returns to the Overlook Hotel and uses it to maximum effect, both paying homage to the original movie and finding a fun way to incorporate the hotel into the new story. It’s a worthwhile return.
“Doctor Sleep” is not going to be hailed as a new horror classic like “The Shining.” But it’s a solid, enjoyable film that expands on the original and revisits it in a really meaningful way.