“Doctor Sleep” is a sequel to 1980’s “The Shining,” and it picks up about 40 years later, as an older Danny Torrance tries to protect a young girl from a cult that tries to feed off her psychic power.
Stephen King has famously made his hatred known for Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” going so far as to call it a “big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside of it.” To me, that statement feels more of an apt comparison to this film. “Doctor Sleep” can’t really decide whether to be the sequel to Kubrick’s or King’s “The Shining.” This leads to a film that is dull in its best parts, and just plain goofy in its worst parts.
Ewan McGregor did a fine job as an older Danny Torrance. His only real problem was just the sheer limiting nature of the role. The character of Danny has something I call “King-main-character-itus.”
It’s when the main character, primarily in a work by Stephen King, has no real discernible personality traits, except for the fact that they are, in fact, the main character, and maybe a history of alcoholism if King decides to mix things up. I would say it’s something of a casualty of King’s “release a new product every year” mentality. He does have a few exceptions here and there, such as Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption,” and Carrie in… well, “Carrie.”
However, Danny and his blandness hit way too hard with this film. He’s just so boring. He is not interesting in any way, shape, or form. However, Danny is not nearly as terribly written as the film’s antagonist, Rose The Hat.
Rose has to be one of the straight goofiest antagonists I’ve seen in a long while. I don’t know if it’s because of Rebecca Ferguson’s over-the-top performance, or just the pure buffoonery that is the existence of the character. Her name is Rose The Hat. Why? Because she has a hat. Not a hat with any sort of magical power, at least any power that is explicitly explained. Nope. She just has a hat.
In spite of the inherent hilarity that her character is reminiscent of a seventh-grader trying to find their personality, she too suffers from a lack of real impact. She’s the leader of a cult of evil, spiritual vampire-like hipsters (yes, I am deadly serious), and that is about it. Sadly, the movie basically revolves around these bland characters, resulting in a fairly bland experience.
The horrid experience is helped additionally by the film’s abysmal pacing. Say whatever about the original 1980 film, but at least that film used its time wisely. The plot starts as soon as the movie begins. In this, there was about an hour of filler with Danny Torrance. It’s an hour of him getting sober, and moving into a new town, that could just as easily be explained in a single line of dialogue.
One thing I will give the movie credit for is its cinematography. Director Mike Flannigan and cinematographer Michael Fimognari do an excellent job of evoking a sort of Kubrick look to the film. However, this, and the countless references to “The Shining,” couldn’t really save this movie in the end.
“Doctor Sleep” is, as a whole, a very boring movie-going experience. I spent most of the movie just wondering why this exists. It doesn’t really add anything to “The Shining” universe. In fact, it actually makes the rules of Danny’s “Shine” more confusing and convoluted. Fans of Stephen King might enjoy this, however as a fan of Kubrick’s “The Shining,” I would recommend that most others should most assuredly skip out on this one.