DOCTOR SLEEP (2019) is strong for a Stephen King adaptation, joining the ranks of films like THE SHINING and THE MIST in its atmospherics and execution, but ultimately it proved weak in the storytelling department, making it feel overlong and ultimately be somewhat forgettable for me.
A sequel to THE SHINING that takes cues from the Kubrick adaptation, DOCTOR SLEEP is set decades after that story’s events. Danny is grown up now and haunted by figurative and very real ghosts, and is a walking train wreck as a result. When he finally gets cleaned up and in control, he finds his purpose. When a young girl with similar powers is targeted by a roaming cult that consumes psychic energy to remain immortal, he must protect her.
What I liked: just enough elements of the first film borrowed for the second, most of which were okay but really standing out in use of the original music and a solid effort at atmosphere. Ewan McGregor brings a genuine, understated humanity to the role of Danny. The psychic warfare made for an exciting cat and mouse game. I really enjoyed Danny’s story, his grappling with his childhood trauma, and his connection to the Overlook, and wished the film had focused entirely on that.
What I didn’t: the bad guys not being scary, despite a good effort by the director and cast. They just weren’t compelling for me, and I actually found their scenes boring. The young girl Danny must help was miscast, or she wasn’t given good direction, as I never felt like she was scared by what was happening to her, which affected my investment. There were too many moments where I asked, “why are they doing that,” too many consequences that seemed to be discarded for convenience.
Overall, I thought the adaptation was good not great, solid fare but lacking the greatness of its predecessor.