Doctor Sleep (2019)
9/10
Very impressive adaptation of King's sequel to The Shining
3 November 2019
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Over thirty years after the events at The Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is now a grown man, with various issues in his life as a result of the trauma he experienced as a child. However, he still possesses his 'shining' ability, and that may come in handy, when he connects with Abra Stone (Kyleigh Curran), a young girl who has become chillingly aware of the existence of a group called The True Knot, lead by the evil Rose the Hat (Rebecca Furguson), who prey on the steam of children who shine. Together, she and Danny must stop their evil once and for all.

Thirty five years after the release of his novel The Shining, the pressure must have finally got to Stephen King, and after enormous pressure from his fans, in 2013 he released the novella Doctor Sleep, which I finally got round to reading earlier this year. After being impressed, it was all the better that this new filmic adaptation would arrive so soon afterwards, and that the hype would be so rewarding after a slew of modern King works that didn't fit the grade. Indeed, I can safely say Doctor Sleep is the most satisfying adaptation I have experienced in a very long time.

It's a pleasant, and not so surprising surprise, that this arrives under the direction of Mike Flanagan, who was behind Netflix's equally impressive adaptation of King's other novel Gerald's Game. His most pleasing achievement is to deliver a strikingly faithful adaptation of the novel, staying true to the events in there and not leaving anything out. He allows the beauty of King's storytelling to naturally get under your skin, using a 'heartbeat' sound to signpost the scary, ominous moments, such as 'The Baseball Boy' scene (a scene as distressing and unpleasant onscreen as in the novel), much more effective than the overwhelming jump scares and constant loud thrashing about that marred It Chapter Two. He also has an eye for casting, and McGregor fits perfectly into the lead role, delivering an effective performance, along with the young Curran as Abra, and Ferguson, whose Rose the Hat will now make a perfect new costume at next years Halloween parties.

Just as the fans of the novel demanded a follow up, so did the fans of the original film version, and in the finale in The Overlook Hotel, Flanagan seems to cater for them, abandoning the original story arc to allow for some subtle references to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic. This creates a kind of cut and shut feel to it, but doesn't spoil the experience overall.

It's rare to get a King transition to screen that is this successful, and that should be pleasing in itself, an original and classy sequel, focusing on themes of being a persecuted minority and, a familiar trope King explored with It, how the seemingly innocent and friendly can be so callous and deceitful. ****
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