Can ‘Doctor Sleep’ be a worthy sequel to ‘The Shining’?

Published: September 16, 2019
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While Stephen King has never gone out of fashion, it seems like his work is enjoying a bit of a film renaissance. However, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining for the big screen has always remained a bit of a sensitive matter as far King was concerned since the horror writer has made it clear that he is not a big fan of the 1980 film. Based on King’s 1977 novel of the same name, the story revolves around Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer who takes a job as the caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel during off-season.

Jack brings his wife and son along with him to reconnect with them, but the supernatural forces in the hotel drive him insane, leaving his family in danger. The term ‘the shining’ refers to telepathic powers possessed by Jack’s son, Dan, who is able to see the hotel’s horrific past.

In this age of endless prequels, sequels and reboots, it is unsurprising that Hollywood has decided to touch one of the most iconic horror films of all time. However, the one thing the film has going in its favour is the fact that the source material is good. Based on King’s book, which was released in 2013 as a sequel to The Shining, the film adaptation of Doctor Sleep will have to work quite hard in order to live up to its predecessor.

Photo: IMDb

Photo: IMDb

Mike Flanagan, who created, directed and wrote Netflix’s highly acclaimed series, The Haunting of Hill House, has taken up the mantle to direct the the film. Flanagan’s love for The Shining is evident from the fact that he reportedly spent days analysing every frame from the film in order to bring back some iconic moments from the classic to the sequel.

Doctor Sleep takes place after the incident at the Overlook Hotel with Dan, played by the talented Ewan McGregor, now an adult, still living with the trauma of his horrific past experiences. Dan encounters a young girl, Abra, who has similar psychic powers as him and gets pulled back into the horrors which he thought he had put behind him. The trailer takes Dan back to the Overlook Hotel where he faces the demons from his past, along with other, new horrors.

Gif: Giphy

Gif: Giphy

Probably the most striking image from the trailer is the fact that we once again get to see the infamous twin sisters back in the hotel’s hallways, along with the famous door Jack Torrance ripped through and yelled the iconic line “Here’s Johnny!” But I think the scene which got me really hyped was the one where a blood shower was filling the hallway, which is quite the throwback to the ocean of blood scene in the prequel.

The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson who, from the looks of the trailer, seems to be playing the leader of a group of individuals who also possess psychic powers and are after Abra. Ferguson’s character does not seem as menacing as she should be considering these characters come from the mind of Stephen King, who created Pennywise, Carrie and Cujo. Nonetheless, I’ll reserve judgement about her performance till the film comes out because she definitely has the acting chops needed to pull off this role.

Photo: IMDb

Doctor Sleep seems to have a more complicated plot compared to its classic predecessor, and while sometimes a complex plot sits well with the audience, most of the time it gets too confusing (case in point: Terminator Genysis, The Predator, It Chapter 2). The movie has got all the right ingredients needed to become a blockbuster, especially after the success of the IT franchise, but when there is too much going on in a movie, there’s a lot of room for mistakes. The trailer does promise the psychological horror themes which made The Shining a huge hit, but will this approach work today when people look for only jump scares in horror movies? I guess we will have to wait and find out.

Doctor Sleep releases on October 30, 2019.

Sahir Palijo

Sahir Palijo

The author is an undergrad pursuing a degree of Business Administration. He loves to write his thoughts and is a movie freak. He tweets at @The_Sahir (twitter.com/the_sahir)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.