DOCTOR SLEEP is the sequel to The Shining from 1981 so it’s been a long time coming. Both movies are based on books by Stephen King but they are quite different. Still, horror fans should definitely enjoy this one as well. Read more in our full Doctor Sleep review here!
Doctor Sleep is the new horror movie based on Stephen King’s book. The book was a sequel to his book The Shining which obviously means this new movie is also a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1981 adaptation of Stephen King’s book.
And yes, it is a very good idea to rewatch The Shining before watching Doctor Sleep. It’s not absolutely necessary if you’re familiar with the story. However, you really will miss out on a lot of references if you’re not familiar with it.
Read more about why this is the case in our full Doctor Sleep review below.
Do watch The Shining first
As stated in the above introduction, you really should have Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining fresh in your memory. Not only will you miss out on important references, you will also miss out on the brilliant recreations by Mike Flanagan. Not a single scene from the 1981 movie is used for Doctor Sleep. Instead, all of the iconic scenes have been remade for this movie!
One of the more fascinating aspects of this is seeing the Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall performances recreated by new actors. I realize this probably sounds strange, but it really does work. Alex Essoe (Midnighters) plays Wendy Torrance in Doctor Sleep and she absolutely nails the facial expressions and (especially) voice of Shelley Duvall. It’s uncanny!
Doctor Sleep does actually feature quite a few scenes with Alex Essoe as Wendy Torrance since the plot begins only shortly after The Shining ends. Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance in The Shining, even has a cameo in Doctor Sleep. I won’t say who’s taken the challenging job of portraying Jack Torrance in the style of Jack Nicholson.
I will, however, say that you do know the actor. And yes, Mike Flanagan has cast a lot of actors you’ll recognize from his previous productions. Among others, you can look forward to Jacob Tremblay (Before I Wake) who delivers a stellar performance in the few scenes he has.
Also, we have Violet McGraw who played the young Nell in The Haunting of Hill House. And also from a Mike Flanagan Netflix production, we have Bruce Greenwood and horror-icon Carel Struycken who were in the adaptation of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game.
Rebecca Ferguson steals the show
While there are a lot of familiar faces in Doctor Sleep – including Ewan McGregor who stars as the adult Danny Torrance – Rebecca Ferguson is the one who steals the show from the second she appears on screen.
You probably know Rebecca Ferguson from her role in the recent (and upcoming) Mission Impossible movies along with Life and Men in Black: International. Also, she was in the awful movie The Snowman but she was definitely a highlight in that one as well.
In Doctor Sleep, Ferguson portrays the character “Rose the Hat”. She’s the leader of a group of travellers who search for kids possessing the same gift that Danny has. The thing they call “the shining”. These travellers could easily be compared to vampires since they kidnap and kill children in order to feed on their “shining”.
Unfortunately (for the kids, anyway), you can only consume this “shining” when it’s released from the body. In order for that to happen, the children must feel immense pain and fear. This makes for some extremely brutal scenes! And yes, I realize this “feeding on shining from kids” might sound strange. However, we’re in Stephen King’s world and it just works!
The main reason I feel that it does work so well, is thanks to Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat. She’s a very real and complete character which Ferguson makes credible – almost as if by magic. Sure, she’s the villain in this story but we do always love a good villain. Rebecca Ferguson in Doctor Sleep is a perfect example of why!
Doctor Sleep as a new horror classic
In so many ways, Doctor Sleep should satisfy the wishes from both fans of Stephen King’s books and fans of Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of the first book. Of course, that first movie did end up deviating so much from the book that Stephen King publicly didn’t love it. As a movie, he appreciated it, but as an adaptation of his own book, he felt it missed the mark.
A huge task for Mike Flanagan has been to create a movie that would build a bridge between The Shining book and movie, and tie both into the story from the Doctor Sleep book. I can’t imagine many other filmmakers could have gotten away with it as elegantly as Mike Flanagan, who both wrote the script and directed Doctor Sleep to create this result.
Yes, I do believe Doctor Sleep has the potential to become a new horror classic. Both due to Rebecca Ferguson’s absolutely brilliant performance and because this movie honors both Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece and the stories by Stephen King. I have loved Mike Flanagan for many years now and Doctor Sleep is a pretty perfect example of why.
Doctor Sleep is out in US theaters from November 8, 2019. Also, it’s being released worldwide around the same time.
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan (screenplay)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Alex Essoe, Jacob Tremblay, Carel Struycken, Emily Alyn Lind, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood
Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance meets a young girl with similar powers as he tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.