MOVIESPOP CULTUREDOCTOR SLEEP: A SHINING SEQUAL

I love The Shining, both the movie and the book. When Stephen King announced that he was writing a sequel titled Doctor Sleep I was pretty skeptical. I did end up reading the book and did end up enjoying it, but I didn’t think a movie could be made out of it. When the film adaptation was announced I was even more skeptical. It’s a sequel that was being made so long after the original,...
foomai3 months ago16134 min
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I love The Shining, both the movie and the book. When Stephen King announced that he was writing a sequel titled Doctor Sleep I was pretty skeptical. I did end up reading the book and did end up enjoying it, but I didn’t think a movie could be made out of it. When the film adaptation was announced I was even more skeptical. It’s a sequel that was being made so long after the original, and the changes of the movie version of The Shining made it hard for me to believe that they could pull off this adaptation. It was then announced that Mike Flanagan had been brought onto the project and my skepticism was immediately replaced with excitement. Mike Flanagan had worked on Gerald’s Game for Netflix, another Stephen King adaptation that was once seen as unadaptable. Gerald’s Game now remains my favorite Netflix Original Film and he then went onto work on my favorite Netflix Original Series, The Haunting of Hill House. Flanagan is a fantastic direction, writer, editor, and I had immediate faith that he could reshape the source material into the film that it needed to be, which made this my most anticipated film of this year.

Fandango VIP held early screenings and I eagerly logged into my exclusive sounding account that anybody can really get. When I hopped into the theater with my popcorn and soda nothing could kill my excitement, even when the theater cut the projection and restarted the movie twice. There was either complications at the theater or Flanagan was really proud of the film’s opening. This hiccup ended up making me laugh and couldn’t kill my excitement. I’m glad to say that my excitement was justified, I fucking loved this movie and I can’t wait to see it again.

Doctor Sleep follows the now adult Dan Torrance from The Shining. Dan Torrance grew up trying to resist his shining gift by pushing it down with alcohol. Then after he decides to sober up he finds out there is a young girl (Abra Stone) out there that has the same gift that he does. Dan Torrance now must help this young girl from a cult lead by Rose the Hat who have found a way to eat people’s shine.

I feel like the first point that I should make when talking about this movie is this: This is not a horror movie. If you can into this film expecting a straightforward horror movie you will be disappointed. Yes, the movie has frightening moments, but it never really feels like a focus in the movie. It’s really a dark fantasy and a damn fine one.

There is so much that this film does right, starting with the film’s characterization. Every character stands out and feels like an individual. This all starts with Dan Torrance’s character played fantastically by Ewan McGregor, who is able to get across so many nuances in the character. From the start of the film we see a character that means well but is unsure of himself. He knows what the right thing to do is, but doesn’t always trust himself to be able to carry it out. Then each character that is introduced feel like their own individual and have a life beyond what is shown on screen. I continue to applaud Mike Flanagan commitment to strong characters. He has this thing that he does where he’ll make a strong central character (or central characters depending on the project), but he’ll still commit to having a strong supporting cast that feels so alive. There was a point in the film where he even made me sympathize for the villain characters by making them come across as a genuine community, and these are the people going around killing kids. All these extra efforts aren’t even necessary but are more than welcomed. It’s like he is adding some extra flavor to the delicious performances that are already there. I wish that I could give some more specific examples for this movie, but I don’t want to give anything away. There isn’t even really that many twists and turns throughout the film, I just want you to experience the movie.

I also feel like I should applaud Kyliegh Curran as the young Abra Stone. Despite us having very little background provided about the character, Curran is able to make the character come alive. Mike Flanagan has always been able to find young talented child actor and he has done the same here.

As for how the movie is put together, it’s down masterfully. The shot compositions, acting, music, directing, and editing are all fantastic. Everything in the film feels like it’s working together and complementing each other to create something greater. The film is shockingly emotional and it feels like it couldn’t have been done if everything wasn’t working so well together. I feel like this is because of how Mike Flanagan is so integrated in the filmmaking process. He writes, directs, and edits. The fact that he is so involved in all aspects of the film all the way to editing his projects himself makes him more connected to the post-production process then many other directors are. I don’t mean to say that directors that don’t do their editing aren’t deeply involved in their project’s post-production. But Flanagan gets to envision what emotions he wants to come across during filming, but then he is the one to put it all together at the end. I feel like his commitment to editing makes him stand out from many directors like him. It also helps that he’s a damn fine editor.

Now is the movie perfect?

No.

While the film does still have a good script, it’s still the film’s weakest link. There is just some choices made in the writing that are seen as objective flaws, flaws that are mostly at the start of the film. There are two opening scenes, it fast forwards a lot of character development, and the opening set up is very long. But I feel like this mistakes might’ve been made for the greater good of the film. Two opening scenes in the movie are important because they give information to the viewer that would otherwise have to be explained in exposition dumps later on, which would be far less compelling. Then when I say it feels like the film fast forwards a lot of character development I’m not talking about Dan Torrance, I’m talking about the supporting characters that come into play. To the films credit, it does feel like this issue is a necessary evil. Like I said, the opening set is very long but it doesn’t get to the point where it starts to drag. If the film decided to take the time to explain why someone would help with Dan’s alcohol recovery then it might. At that point you might risk losing viewer interest. It might just be better to just say: “This guy is just going to help out main character because we need to move the story forward. We can apply that he might shine a little, which might not be enough, but it’s something.” Also I feel like Flanagan knew if Dan Torrance was likable enough and if the rest of the characters were well written and performed that it would all come together in the end.

You could also make the case that the film does over rely on Kurbrick’s The Shining, especially towards the end. I can see why some people might take issue with this, but I didn’t. There was a couple moments when it threw me off, but it still felt important to the story that was being told. If a lot of these references weren’t in the movie than Dan Torrance’s arc would feel a lot less powerful. This reliance does also led to them recasting many of characters from The Shining. It pains me to tell you this information even though it’s not really a spoiler. Like I said, I don’t really want to give you too much information, but this isn’t really a spoiler and I feel like it’s important to talk about. I’ll be honest, I even found some of the recasting jarring, but it again felt important to Dan’s story. For fans of The Shining, just know that you might be thrown off a little but these original characters are important to the overall film.

Is the movie as good as The Shining?

I feel like I can’t really answer this. Doctor Sleep is a very different type of movie than The Shining. The older is really more of a horror and than this newer one is a fantasy. You can enjoy both for very different reasons. With that said, this is still a very good sequel. Though a different kind of movie, it’s existence is entirely dependent on The Shining and is complimented by it. But also don’t be concerned if you should watch The Shining first. I would recommend it because it does make the film much more impactful, but it isn’t really necessary.

Doctor Sleep is one of my favorite movies this year. There are movies this year that are technically better put together, but this film just hit me in a big way. It’s not my favorite thing that Mike Flangan has worked on, but I still fucking loved it. Outside of these reviews I’m studying filmmaking and Mike Flanagan has been one of the biggest inspirations for me as of recently. I think with Doctor Sleep you’ll be able to see why. You might see me in theater on my twelfth viewing.

I love The Shining, both the movie and the book. When Stephen King announced that he was writing a sequel titled Doctor Sleep I was pretty skeptical. I did end up reading the book and did end up enjoying it, but I didn’t think a movie could be made out of it. When the film adaptation was announced I was even more skeptical. It’s a sequel that was being made so long after the original, and the changes of the movie version of The Shining made it hard for me to believe that they could pull off this adaptation. It was then announced that Mike Flanagan had been brought onto the project and my skepticism was immediately replaced with excitement. Mike Flanagan had worked on Gerald’s Game for Netflix, another Stephen King adaptation that was once seen as unadaptable. Gerald’s Game now remains my favorite Netflix Original Film and he then went onto work on my favorite Netflix Original Series, The Haunting of Hill House. Flanagan is a fantastic direction, writer, editor, and I had immediate faith that he could reshape the source material into the film that it needed to be, which made this my most anticipated film of this year.

Fandango VIP held early screenings and I eagerly logged into my exclusive sounding account that anybody can really get. When I hopped into the theater with my popcorn and soda nothing could kill my excitement, even when the theater cut the projection and restarted the movie twice. There was either complications at the theater or Flanagan was really proud of the film’s opening. This hiccup ended up making me laugh and couldn’t kill my excitement. I’m glad to say that my excitement was justified, I fucking loved this movie and I can’t wait to see it again.

Doctor Sleep follows the now adult Dan Torrance from The Shining. Dan Torrance grew up trying to resist his shining gift by pushing it down with alcohol. Then after he decides to sober up he finds out there is a young girl (Abra Stone) out there that has the same gift that he does. Dan Torrance now must help this young girl from a cult lead by Rose the Hat who have found a way to eat people’s shine.

I feel like the first point that I should make when talking about this movie is this: This is not a horror movie. If you can into this film expecting a straightforward horror movie you will be disappointed. Yes, the movie has frightening moments, but it never really feels like a focus in the movie. It’s really a dark fantasy and a damn fine one.

There is so much that this film does right, starting with the film’s characterization. Every character stands out and feels like an individual. This all starts with Dan Torrance’s character played fantastically by Ewan McGregor, who is able to get across so many nuances in the character. From the start of the film we see a character that means well but is unsure of himself. He knows what the right thing to do is, but doesn’t always trust himself to be able to carry it out. Then each character that is introduced feel like their own individual and have a life beyond what is shown on screen. I continue to applaud Mike Flanagan commitment to strong characters. He has this thing that he does where he’ll make a strong central character (or central characters depending on the project), but he’ll still commit to having a strong supporting cast that feels so alive. There was a point in the film where he even made me sympathize for the villain characters by making them come across as a genuine community, and these are the people going around killing kids. All these extra efforts aren’t even necessary but are more than welcomed. It’s like he is adding some extra flavor to the delicious performances that are already there. I wish that I could give some more specific examples for this movie, but I don’t want to give anything away. There isn’t even really that many twists and turns throughout the film, I just want you to experience the movie.

I also feel like I should applaud Kyliegh Curran as the young Abra Stone. Despite us having very little background provided about the character, Curran is able to make the character come alive. Mike Flanagan has always been able to find young talented child actor and he has done the same here.

As for how the movie is put together, it’s down masterfully. The shot compositions, acting, music, directing, and editing are all fantastic. Everything in the film feels like it’s working together and complementing each other to create something greater. The film is shockingly emotional and it feels like it couldn’t have been done if everything wasn’t working so well together. I feel like this is because of how Mike Flanagan is so integrated in the filmmaking process. He writes, directs, and edits. The fact that he is so involved in all aspects of the film all the way to editing his projects himself makes him more connected to the post-production process then many other directors are. I don’t mean to say that directors that don’t do their editing aren’t deeply involved in their project’s post-production. But Flanagan gets to envision what emotions he wants to come across during filming, but then he is the one to put it all together at the end. I feel like his commitment to editing makes him stand out from many directors like him. It also helps that he’s a damn fine editor.

Now is the movie perfect?

No.

While the film does still have a good script, it’s still the film’s weakest link. There is just some choices made in the writing that are seen as objective flaws, flaws that are mostly at the start of the film. There are two opening scenes, it fast forwards a lot of character development, and the opening set up is very long. But I feel like this mistakes might’ve been made for the greater good of the film. Two opening scenes in the movie are important because they give information to the viewer that would otherwise have to be explained in exposition dumps later on, which would be far less compelling. Then when I say it feels like the film fast forwards a lot of character development I’m not talking about Dan Torrance, I’m talking about the supporting characters that come into play. To the films credit, it does feel like this issue is a necessary evil. Like I said, the opening set is very long but it doesn’t get to the point where it starts to drag. If the film decided to take the time to explain why someone would help with Dan’s alcohol recovery then it might. At that point you might risk losing viewer interest. It might just be better to just say: “This guy is just going to help out main character because we need to move the story forward. We can apply that he might shine a little, which might not be enough, but it’s something.” Also I feel like Flanagan knew if Dan Torrance was likable enough and if the rest of the characters were well written and performed that it would all come together in the end.

You could also make the case that the film does over rely on Kurbrick’s The Shining, especially towards the end. I can see why some people might take issue with this, but I didn’t. There was a couple moments when it threw me off, but it still felt important to the story that was being told. If a lot of these references weren’t in the movie than Dan Torrance’s arc would feel a lot less powerful. This reliance does also led to them recasting many of characters from The Shining. It pains me to tell you this information even though it’s not really a spoiler. Like I said, I don’t really want to give you too much information, but this isn’t really a spoiler and I feel like it’s important to talk about. I’ll be honest, I even found some of the recasting jarring, but it again felt important to Dan’s story. For fans of The Shining, just know that you might be thrown off a little but these original characters are important to the overall film.

Is the movie as good as The Shining?

I feel like I can’t really answer this. Doctor Sleep is a very different type of movie than The Shining. The older is really more of a horror and than this newer one is a fantasy. You can enjoy both for very different reasons. With that said, this is still a very good sequel. Though a different kind of movie, it’s existence is entirely dependent on The Shining and is complimented by it. But also don’t be concerned if you should watch The Shining first. I would recommend it because it does make the film much more impactful, but it isn’t really necessary.

Doctor Sleep is one of my favorite movies this year. There are movies this year that are technically better put together, but this film just hit me in a big way. It’s not my favorite thing that Mike Flangan has worked on, but I still fucking loved it. Outside of these reviews I’m studying filmmaking and Mike Flanagan has been one of the biggest inspirations for me as of recently. I think with Doctor Sleep you’ll be able to see why. You might see me in theater on my twelfth viewing.

 

foomai

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