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Mike Flanagan had an impossible task laid before him: adapt Doctor Sleep, a sequel to a movie which was kind of a poor adaptation of a book, but respect both books as well as the first movie. Phew, what a mouthful. Stanley Kubrick’s widely revered adaptation of The Shining is actually not a good representation of the book. In fact, the ending is completely different. But it was and is such an iconic film that it can’t just be ignored.
So how do you adapt Doctor Sleep properly? Well somehow Mike Flanagan found a way that essentially boils down to merging the ending of the first novel with the ending of the new one, and then putting THAT on screen. Also brilliant was recasting the roles of Jack and Wendy from The Shining with people who look enough like them. No CG de-aging to be seen. So he was able to respect the iconic work of Kubrick on the first film, rectify the changes made to the story, and spit a sequel out that Stephen King actually likes. It was truly a feat and that Flanagan was able to execute it so well has cemented him as a voice of modern horror, as if Haunting of Hill House hadn’t done that already.
Neither of us particularly enjoyed The Shining. It’s long, it’s slow, it’s a product of its time, and the story is called The Shining but it doesn’t focus on the one character who shines! It is understandably a cinematic milestone, but seeing it for the first time as adults, it doesn’t stand the test of time.
Doctor Sleep however was an absolute joy. Was it as much a “horror” movie as The Shining? Not really. It is scary at points but it’s more focused on properly delivering you a story than it is on scaring you. We’ve said before that more horror films should lean on fantasy and this one does it in spades.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the cast. The trailer gives us a lot of Ewan McGregor, and rightfully so. As he’s playing Danny Torrance, one would assume he’s the star. But the ones who shine in Doctor Sleep are really Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, and Kyliegh Curran as Abra. We know and love Rebecca Ferguson already so it’s no surprise we loved her in this. But we didn’t expect to have as much fun with her character. She’s the villain and Rebecca eats it up. Kyliegh is a newcomer and totally knocks it out of the park as the “good guy”. Boy this is getting rambly.
To sum up: The Shining, bad. Doctor Sleep, good. You should all go see it immediately and the go give it a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes because some crazy how it only has one more point than Terminator Dark Fate. Anyway, drink deeply of some steam, settle down in your trailer hot tub and enjoy today’s episode of So…I’m Watching This Show!