Warner Bros.                                Ewan McGregor stars as the adult Danny Torrance in “Doctor Sleep.”

Warner Bros. Ewan McGregor stars as the adult Danny Torrance in “Doctor Sleep.”

Review: ‘Doctor Sleep’ shines as a rare Stephen King sequel

  • Thu Nov 14th, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

While “It: Chapter 2” wasn’t all that mem­orable or satisfying, the cinemas have received two films based on Stephen King books this year that have been quite excellent: “Pet Sematary” was a creepy watch throughout, and now “Doctor Sleep” has arrived, a chilling sequel to “The Shining.”

Set decades after the events of the original movie, this one follows Danny Torrance as an adult (Ewan McGregor). The ghosts of the Overlook Hotel still haunt him, as does his father’s weakness for alcohol, and he has hit rock-bottom. As he’s starting a new life in a new town, Danny connects with a girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) through their psychic abilities — and discovers a group of semi-immortal, serial killer nomads hunting her, called the True Knot.

First off, the music is excellent, with just enough hints of the original score from “The Shining” to send a delightful chill down your spine. The cinematography is top-notch, especially during the film’s weirder parts and when our protagonists eventually return to the Overlook Hotel.

But the performances are where the film is truly stellar. First, no matter what he is in, McGregor manages to play the most convincingly likable guy ever. His portrayal of Danny Torrance is just fantastic, as a man who is both a haunted recovering alcoholic and just a genuinely good person, despite the psychotically induced homicidal rampage his father went on decades earlier.

Curran also is excellent as Abra Stone, an incredibly powerful psychic who attracts the attention of the True Knot. Whereas Danny’s character depth comes from his struggle against alcohol and his traumatic past, Abra’s story arc is based on serving justice and stopping the True Knot. Her “fighting fire with fire” method gives her a vengeful side that makes her a great protagonist. Curran plays her with a good-hearted and lovable nature concerning the people she cares about — but when she’s in touch with her abilities, she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

The best performance in the movie, however, might be Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat. As the vicious leader of the True Knot, Ferguson brings to life a great Stephen King antagonist. A leader of semi-demonic serial killers, Rose is the Charles Manson of the group — a homicidal ringleader who lures in unsuspecting children with the Shining, then sacrifices them so she and her traveling hippie-esque companions can devour their essence. And Ferguson portrays her as a nearly unstoppable force in her conviction and desire to feed.

Joining the likes of Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes in “Misery,” Bill Skarsgaard’s Pennywise in “It” and Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in “The Shining,” Ferguson’s Rose the Hat is a fantastic addition to the Stephen King rogues gallery of terror. There is one particularly horrifying scene in the middle of the film that will establish this status for the audience, and by the end, it will be indisputable.

While “Doctor Sleep” stands on its own two feet quite well, it would be a fun idea to revisit “The Shining” before watching the sequel. There are many great callbacks and nods to the original, and some plot elements of the previous film do play into this one.

“Doctor Sleep” might not be as chock-full of scares as “Pet Sematary” or the first chapter of “It,” but it’s definitely worth the price of admission and maybe even the popcorn and soda to go with it. This is a trip to the doctor you won’t forget.

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“Doctor Sleep” is currently playing at the Riverside Cinemas, 1017 S. Boone St. in Aberdeen.

George Haerle holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing for media and lives in Cosmopolis.


Warner Bros. Pictures                                Abra (Kyliegh Curran), left, faces off against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) in “Doctor Sleep.”

Warner Bros. Pictures Abra (Kyliegh Curran), left, faces off against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) in “Doctor Sleep.”