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Sunday, November 10, 2019


This is a somewhat cumbersome 151-minute sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece, The Shining. (Review by Patrick Compton 7/10)

Remember the little muppet who spent his time tricyling along those spooky corridors in the Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains?

Well, Danny Torrance rides again in Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King’s follow-up to his novel, The Shining, but this time he’s a grown-up alcoholic played by Ewan McGregor, tormented by his childhood experiences at the hands of his father (played by Jack Nicholson in the film version) and a collection of demons.

King famously loathed Kubrick’s chilly gothic adaptation, but Flanagan makes it clear that he’s more interested in making a sequel that pays homage to Kubrick rather than King.

Danny has now morphed into Dan who has become a tormented alcoholic following the death of his mother. In a bid to save his sanity he goes to live in a quiet town in New Hampshire where he gets a job as a carer in an old people’s home.

But this moment of peace doesn’t last long. Roaming the countryside, hunting for young people with “the shining”, is a grisly group called The Knot, led by Rose (Rebecca Ferguson) a blue-eyed seductress who wears a Babadook hat. She and her gang are a particularly nasty neo-vampiric collective who tend to torture and kill their victims, sucking in the steam – a kind of soul energy – that escapes from their mouths as they die.

Dan connects with a fellow “shiner”, Abra (Kyliegh Curran, making an impressive film debut), who becomes psychically involved with the Knot and is threatened by them as she attempts to put a halt to their demonic enterprise.

That's as much plot as you need. Thematically, Doctor Sleep is a slow-burning, uneven horror movie, more intent on contemplating the nature of evil than offering audiences a scare-fest, although there are a number of moments that will make you uneasy. There are also characters aplenty from Kubrick’s movie, captured in flashback, such as Dan’s dad (Henry Thomas with darting Jack Nicholson eyebrows) and a mother (Alex Essoe) with Shelley Duvall’s saucer eyes and vocal inflections. Furthermore, the hotel itself becomes a major character in the film's climax.

The film has some gratuitously unpleasant moments, such as the sadistic killing of a young baseball star by The Knot, and on a number of occasions the audience is asked to ridiculously suspend its disbelief in order to swallow a number of incredible developments.

As an independent horror movie, I suppose Doctor Sleep is decent enough, but as a sequel to Kubrick's masterwork, its shine definitely lacks lustre.

Doctor Sleep opened on Friday, November 8, 2019, and is showing at various cinemas in Durban. – Patrick Compton