November 08, 2019

Doctor Sleep is in theaters on November 8th, 2019.

"Doctor Sleep" is the continuation of Danny Torrance's story 40 years after the terrifying events of Stephen King's The Shining. Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the "shine." Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality. Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra's innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before-at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.

Doctor Sleep is directed by Mike Flanagan (who has previously directed “Hush” and “Ouija: Origin of Evil”) and going into this film I was somewhat excited. But let me tell you, my expectations were blown away straight from the start. From beginning to end, I was on the edge of my seat during this high stakes rollercoaster ride. Now for those of you who have seen this film, you may disagree with me about being on the edge of your seat the whole time but hear me out.

So straight from the top I am going to go into the editing, because director Mike Flanagan also edited it with is prior editing experience. This really enhanced the film. As opposed to “The Shining” with long shots and slow burning scenes, this film moves like “The Lego Movie”. Each scene just whips by with a cliffhanger at the end, always keeping you on the edge. They never waste time in this two and a half hour film. I never noticed any explanation to the audience or the characters if we already knew the information and that really impressed me. These little details are what made this film feel forty five minutes shorter than it actually was. Also, while on the topic of editing the visual effects in this are so creative and insane. Sometimes reminding me of the effects in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange”, but pushing the metal “inside your head” aspects to the next level. Now while we are talking about editing I do have to address one issue for me. There are flashbacks to the original film and events that take place directly after. For these scenes they obviously recast the original characters, but if they used the digital face capturing that Marvel and Lucasfilm has been using lately, I think it would have really enhanced those scenes.

Moving over to the most important part of this film, the story. Each character is built up so well during the first hour of this film. When the juicy stuff starts to happen, it really feels deserved because audience members are already invested in these characters. And the story is fantastically dark, intense and even heartwarming. Paired with some really awesome throwbacks and even expansions on the original 1980 film, it’s just beautiful. I only had one moment in the whole movie that took me out of the film and unfortunately it is at the very end of the film. I won’t say anymore for spoiler reasons.

Now the acting in this film is amazing. There is not a single actor (big role or small) who did not give their all. Some of my standouts were Ewan McGregor (previously seen in “Trainspotting” and “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace”) as Dan Torrance, break out actress Kyliegh Curran (previously seen in “I Can I Will I Did”) as Abra Stone, Cliff Curtis (previously seen in “Sunshine” and “10,000 BC”) as Billy Freeman, Emily Alyn Lind (previously seen in “Enter The Void” and “J. Edger”) as Snakebite Andi and my personal favorite performance in this film Rebecca Ferguson (previously seen in “Life” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”) as Rose the Hat. She was so twisted and hungry for evil, but I loved her character so much. Everytime she was on screen I just wanted more. We will see how time ages this film, but I think she will be a stand out villian for a while.

The last pros I wanted to address is the cinematography and the score. It really is outstanding. Everything looks so blue and urky, pairing with the tone. And the camera movement is perfectly timed with the editing and moves so smoothly. At times it even uses camera shots from the first film, but feels so fresh while calling back to its predecessor. The score does the same exact thing. It really works with the visuals perfectly. I would highly recommend giving the score a listen on it’s own.

Now this review is awfully long, so I have to put one more point in the conclusion. I think some horror fanatics will be disappointed in this film. This is not your average jumpscare gorefest horror film. This film builds up fear and a creepy atmosphere, really leaving you terrified of the protagonist's future and the antagonist’s next move. But overall I obviously loved the hell out of this movie. It could be my favorite film of the year. So much heart was put into it and it really shines on screen, while being incredibly different from Stanlee Kubrick’s “The Shining”. I definitely recommend this film to any fan of “The Shining”, or anyone who wants to see a very special horror film.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cabell Cabell (Senior Contributor) is a filmmaker from Tampa, Florida. He will watch just about any film but when he's not reviewing the latest hits he spends time directing films of his own.
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