Doctor Sleep (2019)
November 17, 2019 6:04 AM - Subscribe

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.
posted by DirtyOldTown (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I thought this was pretty great. Very creepy. I wish a few things would have been different, but I typically want a more depressing "real" end to movies than most people.

I almost wish this were a 10-episode Netflix series instead of a movie. It would allow for more backstory on the individual True Knot members who looked all very interesting.
posted by King Bee at 7:03 AM on November 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

This movie is what happens when LARPers get the rights to do a Shining sequel.
posted by Catblack at 7:13 AM on November 17, 2019

It is based on a book that King wrote. Since it tries to follow Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining instead of the book The Shining, it's not 100% faithful to the book. To call it LARPing is a failed critique.
posted by King Bee at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

If Catblack has actually seen the film and feels that way I'd be interested to hear this opinion expanded. If it's a drive-by slag of something they haven't seen...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have seen it. While I do feel the necessity of brevity in my review, I will clarify. Doctor Sleep feels like a bunch of live action role players are doing a fan fiction riff off the source material. I haven't read the book, but by using the imagery (frequently without much explanation,) from Kubrick's film it felt to me like I was watching a bunch of cosplayers doing some regional variant of Vampire the Masquerade.

And I specify LARPing in my critique of the film because all of the "not Kubrick's Shining" parts of it seem obsessed with rules that feel like they came out of some guidebook. I could almost imagine the director rolling dice behind the camera and then fudging the numbers to tell his story better. And none of it, (which is probably fleshed out in detail in the book,) really reveal what's in the mind of the group of bad guys, besides that they have strange powers and they live long and are bad.

And all of it is tacked on to faithful recreations of Kubrik's film. That part to me was the better part of the film, but even then I wondered if anyone who hadn't seen The Shining film would even understand it. (The climactic ending of Doctor Sleep shows a bunch of ghost characters who hadn't appeared before as I recall.)

All in all I thought it was an ok enough film on a technical level, but overall a waste of time. And undeniably a cash crab on the part of the film studio. Can't wait to see them make Clockwork Orange II: The Redemption of Dim.
posted by Catblack at 8:26 AM on November 17, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yeah, I disagree with virtually every word of that.

The Shining is one of the single widest-seeen R-rated horror films ever made. I am not certain I agree that its sequel needed to go to any particular lengths to contextualize references to the previous film.

We also seem to have very different opinions on how prominent the references to the earlier film are. By my watch, the "back to the Overlook" section of the film is maybe 15 minutes long, and previous flashbacks totaled maybe one minute. The film is in excess of two and a half hours. So in terms of how much of the film this represents, it's comparatively minor.

Maybe you felt they weighed heavily on the film? Are you arguing a sequel to a movie about a huanted hotel would have been better off not showing the hotel? Or that they should have shown a different one than the iconic one people have in their heads?

What's more, the LARPing reference seems little more than a funny nail to hang criticism on. Generally speaking, when the makers of a sequel craft an entirely new story while going to great lengths to follow the rules and world-building of the original, people consider that a good thing, right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Doctor Sleep feels like a bunch of live action role players are doing a fan fiction riff off the source material.

Although I disagree, I do see what you mean. To me, LARPing suggests cheapness of production or cringey acting, and I don't think either of those were true here. But what did say LARP to me was the '90s boho look that the True Knot had, which was absolutely the aesthetic favored among the Vampire crowd in my roleplaying days. I had a hard time being terrified by Rose the Hat because of her Four Non Blondes look.

Until. Until they killed that boy. That was a hard thing to watch, and more so to hear. Real stakes from then on. (The question of why there isn't an Amber Alert out for Abra is elided, but I expect it was answered in the book. I couldn't hang with the whole thing.)

I liked the Outlook scenes and the confrontation until the very end, when, again, it did seem like cosplayers, instead of actual hungry ghosts, were eating up Rose the Hat. But the roles of Jack, Wendy, and Dick were all very well filled, I thought. All in all, it was an uneven production but very good where it was good.

(I did find myself troubled by a persistent question later on, which was about Rose the Hat going grocery shopping. Did they need food? Did they just eat for fun? The toilet paper suggests they had to deal with it afterwards. Why aren't more horror movie villains encountered while they're shopping?)
posted by Countess Elena at 12:57 PM on November 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

As a horror sequel no one asked for to a horror film beloved by cinemaphiles who do not typically like horror, Doctor Sleep is a film people have been waiting to dunk on since the book was announced.

Thing is though: people waiting around to slag on this for not besting Kubrick are missing a terrific Mike Flanagan film and a natural follow-up to the original story.

Things this movie had going against it: no one asked for this sequel; the chances of living up to the original were slim-to-none; the book this is based on is shaky and is emphatically a sequel to the book not the movie; King hated the original but people loved it and Flanagan had to make a sequel that weaved together the book sequel and the adapted film version of the first book.

And despite all of this: it's good. I'd give it a B+. Considering the ingredients Flanagan had to work with, it's like making a fine meal out of sweetbreads. It's amazing he even got it done.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:06 PM on November 17, 2019 [8 favorites]

Interestingly, Stephen King said that Doctor Sleep made him reconsider his antipathy to the original Kubrick film.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Flanagan's directorial style continues to eschew most of the conventional wisdom for what makes a good horror director: longer takes, sober/unflashy visuals, more energy spent coaxing great performances than crafting elaborate effects, minimal use of jump scares, not using the soundtrack as a crutch... I particularly like the way he lets uncomfortable scenes breathe.

And man, I sure hope at this point, he's paying for a therapist for poor Jacob Tremblay.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, Dr. Sleep felt more like a superhero origin story then it did an actual horror movie.
posted by hoodrich at 2:09 PM on November 17, 2019

The more I think about it, the more I think this movie being good but not truly great is going to work for everyone. If you went in hoping to enjoy it, congrats! It's pretty good. But if you have been waiting to dunk on this, it isn't so strong you're going to have to deny yourself the opportunity. So enjoy!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 AM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I didn't go in hoping to dunk on it, but I did think it sucked. It wasn't really a horror movie in any sense - more like a plodding action movie. The villains are ridiculous, things are drawn out and slow, and it doesn't even make an effort to be scary. It was well shot in some ways, but it reminded me of Hill House, where it's a boring melodrama with the trappings of horror over top. My guess is that people who don't normally like or watch horror movies like his stuff because it's not really the same thing.
posted by codacorolla at 3:04 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just watched the directors cut, which is even better. No real added sequences, just better pacing, characterization, and enhanced dread.

I'd give it an A.

I feel pretty confident this is a movie the general consensus will turn around on in coming years.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2022

I heard some praise of this movie recently on Twitter, so I thought I'd finally check it out.

I wouldn't grade it as high as DOT but I did find myself sort of switching betwen like-watching it and hate-watching it, so I think he's right that it can please both ways.

The goal of the bad guys, was a bit PizzaGate-y huh. I don't particularly like the premise, and I don't think it's a great fit with The Shining; I was just going teehee a lot when they had to trowel over the problem of if the hotel likes to eat shining people why was Dick Halloran living nearby for years, a tasty snack.

I did like the vampire ghoul bad guy crew though. I like the implication that they have sucked all the magic out of the world. That said, they die pretty easy! I feel like what this thing was missing from horror fiction was really wallowing even more in the evil of these people. There didn't seem to be enough gross/horror things to really flesh them out. The pusher girl's story line through the movie is kinda weird.

All in all it reminded me a bit of "The Outsider": Ok, time for the special ones to face the ancient horror and its poorly defined power set. Oh wait that's a few SK things isn't it.

And no blowjob bear?
posted by fleacircus at 11:53 AM on November 19, 2023

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