While Doctor Sleep — a well-intentioned, if meandering effort — captures the overall tone of the book in a way author Stephen King wished the original Shining had, it also loses the terror and intrigue of the original in the process.
Famous for pushing his actors to the edge, auteur Stanley Kubrick got career-best performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall in the high-tension adaptation, now considered a horror classic.
King, who hated that film, praises Doctor Sleep’s fidelity, and yet audiences may be left yawning regardless.
The slow, methodical plotting creates an atmosphere of boredom, and Ewan McGregor, who showed his tortured chops in Trainspotting, is stifled here until the final acting.
As Danny Torrance, he’s tasked with playing a man torn apart by the alcoholism of his father and psychological trauma inflicted on him by Nicholson’s character in the original film, but we never quite get a true window into what it all means.
Now, we’re meant to follow a cult, dubbed The True Knot, as they attempt to take the life of those with the “shine” like Danny Torrance’s to remain immortal.
The overall problem with screenwriter-director Mike Flanagan’s film is he’s traded thrills and frights for dramatic intrigue, but we never quite care about these events like we did in the original.
The threats to Danny Torrance himself are minimal, and the one thing that saves Doctor Sleep is when McGregor takes us on a trip back to the infamous Overlook Hotel for the final showdown.
It’s when nostalgia and terror collide — in that final 40 minutes, coupled with a perfect ending — that we’re given true flashes of brilliance.
It’s just too bad that in the streaming era, most future viewers will be caught napping before they reach the satisfying point where the film truly shines through.
Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.