‘Doctor Sleep’ is a stressful movie experience that leaves you with a satisfying ending

Mounting a sequel to one of the most iconic films in pop culture takes courage. In fact, it almost sounds like a terrible idea. As daunting as the work he had to bring to the big screen, Mike Flanagan masterfully wields a modern thriller to succeed the events of “The Shining.”

Known for his horror flicks, Flanagan (who also edited the film) is able to brand “Doctor Sleep” as entirely his own—the movie reflects his distinct style yet dutifully pays homage to the both the works of Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King.

Although quite unfocused, the director found the middle ground of Kubrick and King’s visions. Flanagan also opens up opportunities for the audience to interpret the symbolisms (or more accurately, parallelisms) he had embedded into the narrative. What “The Shining” had in the intensity of its suspense, “Doctor Sleep” makes up for depth of story.

Even with his fears locked up and the haunting isolation of the Overlook Hotel finally escaped, stepping back into Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) world takes an awful lot of courage still. He’s grown up to be too familiar: A man in his later years, a recovering alcoholic, with a constant need to detach from the things that surround him. As Dan realizes remnants of his father are alive in him, he seeks for change hoping to find a new beginning with it.

The beginning shows an age that’s all too familiar and all too real. The horrors of the world are laid to rest by the hands of modernity. Or so it seems. For the most part, “Doctor Sleep” feels a lot like a stand-alone film. It introduces a different kind of evil lurking around quite unknown to what we’ve seen before. Flanagan, unafraid of taking on this new direction, created a film almost seemed like a separate tale pointing to astral beings with cultish quasi-demonic behaviors.
This new breed of supernatural fleshes out the abilities of those who “shine,” widening the scope of its targets. In turn, the movie gives us an enigmatic villain in the form of Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). Leading her comrades to live longer, they feed on one’s “shine” for survival.

“Doctor Sleep” makes us meet more people with the gift of the “Shining,” making an unlikely alliance form between Danny and Abra (Kyliegh Curran) as they try to put an end to the murders of their kind.

The investigative and gruesome chase it puts forth is exciting, showing stronger supernatural powers than before. But excitement can turn to confusion as the story continued to move farther away from the events of the Overlook Hotel.

One thing to understand about “Doctor Sleep” is that it’s a story about Danny’s redemption. He protects Abra with his life, just like Dick Hallorann once did for him. He shows that the reigning part of his self isn’t that which resembles his father, but of someone who no longer feared his past. I just wish the latter parts of the film that showed these developments took a larger portion of the narrative.

Kubrick’s work was a lot cold and calculated with a maddeningly slow suspense—cultivating fear the most in its quietest moments.“Doctor Sleep” completely abandons this pace, yet manages a stressful viewing experience that gives you satisfaction in the logical aspects of things. And honestly, that’s quite a rarity in its genre.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“Doctor Sleep” will begin showing in Philippine cinemas this Nov. 7

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