Doctor Sleep isn’t perfect. But it is still a great example of how a sequel, and a successful amalgamation, could be.
Doctor Sleep Synopsis
Shiny as he was in childhood, Danny Torrance is a wreck as an adult, having never fully come to terms with his powers. Still, he manages to find some peace after settling in a small town, to the extent he is even comfortable communicating telepathically with a child named Abra Stone. One day, Abra turns up in Danny’s town, informing him that a gang of quasi-immortals are torturing and murdering kids with telepathic powers. Though initially reluctant, Danny agrees to help Abra deal with the group. The confrontation quickly spirals towards a psychic-powered showdown at Danny’s eternal torment, the ever-hungry Overlook Hotel.
Having never read the 2013 novel, nor bothered to research the synopsis, I confess I wasn’t looking forward to Doctor Sleep.
It felt so much like an attempt to cash in on previous successes, be it the book or the Kubrick movie. What I saw in the trailer further reinforced this opinion. The story, in every way, sounded like a lame effort to twist the events of the original story into a comic book good-versus-evil saga.
Well, the actual movie is indeed X-Men like, with psychic battles Professor X himself would deeply approve of. But thrown in the mix are also several classic Stephen King elements. Hereby, let me just say that whether you are fond of King’s style, or not, these touches made the movie, and the story, an exhilarating joy to watch.
- A talky, stylish, irresistible villain. Magnificently brought to life by Rebecca Ferguson.
- A self-aware and confident kid out to redeem the world. Incidentally, this is a heart-warming progression from King’s earlier child heroes i.e. the Danny Torrences who take so long to embrace their destinies. In the process, resulting in more tragedies.
- A sensible development of the Danny Torrence from the 1980 movie. While it pains me that he didn’t grew up great, I admit it would have been incredulous had he completely recovered from his trauma. The brittle, mopey adult depicted by Ewan McGregor was both believable and “reasonable.”
As for the talk of the town i.e. striking a new balance between The Shining the movie and the book, honestly, I felt there were several awkward moments. Bits of the movie that either swung too drastically in style or felt too eager to pay homage to Kubrick’s legendary masterpiece. The entire “return to the Overlook” for a showdown also felt too obligatory ala Exorcist III ending.
That said, Doctor Sleep still marched into fresh grounds with confidence and without abandoning its past. In short, here’s one movie that managed to find an attractive middle-ground for all the challenges it faces. It’s a little premature to say, but I believe Doctor Sleep will very quickly become a King horror movie fan favourite.
PS: Is it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down? The Rotting Woman is reduced to trash mob in this sequel! The tragedy!