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Review: Doctor Sleep (15)

Written by Film

An adaptation of Stephen King’s eponymous 2013 novel, Doctor Sleep is the long-awaited sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic. Set primarily in the modern day, the film follows an adult Danny Torrance as he struggles with acute trauma and alcoholism, all the while trying to protect Abra – another child with the Shining – from the nefarious True Knot.

The Shining has been a large part of the horror canon since its debut, through its growing sense of dread, which places a lot of pressure on Doctor Sleep to recapture the same energy. Fortunately, director Mike Flanagan  side-steps these expectations, trading in cabin fever terror for a slow-burning supernatural thriller. With this he demonstrates his understanding that the subjectivity of horror means that it can’t lean on jump scares to engage a wide audience. Instead, Doctor Sleep succeeds in forming a contemplative piece of drama that is elevated by a keen sense of dread throughout, even if the film stumbles towards its climax.

Feguson’s performance is immensely fulfilling, capturing all of the villain’s quirky threats and vulnerabilities perfectly

At a roughly two and a half hours running time, Doctor Sleep is undoubtedly long for a contemporary horror film but its invigorating cast makes sure it’s never slow. Ewan McGregor returns to the spotlight with a subtle performance, accented with self-doubt and defeat. Unfortunately for McGregor, his performance is outshone by the always captivating Rose the Hat – portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson. Feguson’s performance is immensely fulfilling, capturing all of the villain’s quirky threats and vulnerabilities perfectly, while also engaging with her True Knot companions in a hauntingly entertaining fashion: any scene with the True Knot is instantly a great scene.

It’s no secret that good child actors are still hard to find – even in the Stranger Things era – but Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone is phenomenal, exulting confidence and solidifying her own place as one of the great horror protagonists.

Rating: 4/5

Last modified: 9th November 2019

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