What is your comment on Doctor Sleep? why would you recommend it?


Theater review. Possible spoilers. It’s been 39 years since poor 5 year old Danny Torrance escaped his father’s attempt to kill him and his mother in Colorado’s Overlook Hotel (“The Shining”). Stephen King’s novel is a direct sequel as is this film. Danny (Ewan McGregor) is now grown up, but is still haunted by those events decades ago. Living on the east coast he hasn’t much of a life. Drunk most of the time, he spends his time sleeping where and with whoever he can. He’s often comforted by the spirit of Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly replacing Scatman Crothers from “The Shining”). Danny, sometimes called Doc, decides to get on a bus and escape his current situation. He gets off in a small town in New Hampshire and is quickly befriended by Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis) who runs a mini-version of the town square…uh, on the town square. Billy sees something in Danny that reminds him of himself years earlier. That is, an alcoholic in a desperate situation.


Danny goes with Billy to an AA meeting and we jump forward 8 years and Danny is sober, working in a hospice. He has a strong version of telepathy that he calls the “shine.” He’s able to help the dying patients comfortably make the transition to the afterlife. One day he’s greeted by a note written on a wall in his room from another with similar abilities. A 13 year old girl named Abra (newcomer Kyliegh Curran).

Across the country in Iowa, a collective cult with range of psycho-powers called The True Knot are found, literally sucking the life out of children. First a 6-year old girl in a park, then in a horrific scene with a 10-year old boy played by Jacob Tremblay (“Good Boys”). A word of warning, this scene is cringe worthy, if not gory. Essentially, members of The True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (terrific Rebecca Ferguson) inhale the misty essence that is exhaled when people die. The greater the pain, the more powerful the essence. With this “food,” the group’s members can have a life that can last centuries. Both the little girl and the boy have the "shine", so these are the people Rose and her herd seek out.

Back in New Hampshire, Abra is sensing Rose and the True Knot’s evil. Abra has a powerful "shine" and even manages to get inside the head of Rose. When Rose feels the intrusion she is bent on finding the girl and absorbing her essence. This central part of the film is its most absorbing. The linkage to the Colorado is left behind. It becomes an excellent cat and mouse game. One with potentially deadly implications. We discover that while the True Knot can live forever theoretically, they can also be killed so they still have to be careful.

With Abra’s prodding, Dan takes on a new role which is to eliminate the True Knot. He is assisted by Abra’s mental powers as well as some help from Billy. They will eventually collide leaving Dan and Abra having to combine their abilities against Rose. Dan believes to make the odds more in their favor, they need to lure Rose to the now closed Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Frankly that seemed to be unnecessary but then it reconnects the story back to “The Shining.” What was once essentially a standalone film now takes on the effect of a true sequel. I have mixed feelings about it.

The film is directed and written by Mike Flanagan (“Ouija: Origin of Evil” and TV’s “The Haunting of Hill House”) based on King’s book. He’s pretty good at horror films and this might be his best. One can nitpick about some of the elements – how is it Danny can remember the details of the Overlook Hotel as he was only 5 at the time? – but the film is still effective as a horror film made for grownups. Recommended.