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Doctor Sleep redeems Kubrick’s Shining

Danny Torrance is a redeemable character, unlike his father in The Shining.
Photo courtesy of IMP Awards

In 1977, Stephen King frightened the world with his horrifying novel The Shining. Only three years later, Stanley Kubrick adapted the novel into a film, bringing the words off the page and onto the big screen. Now, in 2019, the same has been done to the 2011 sequel novel Doctor Sleep, bringing the characters to life once more. The Overlook Hotel is awake and so are all of its guests. 

Danny Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, has grown up and failed at dealing with his demons, turning to alcoholism to silence the entities that have haunted him since childhood. Eventually, his life is tangled up with that of Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) a child gifted with “the shining.” They must evade and fight beings of great power who feed off of children with supernatural powers while also coming to learn more about the things that lie beyond the veil of death. 

Doctor Sleep pays great homage to its predecessor while also bringing a fresh take on the horrors of the Overlook Hotel. The soundtrack brings back the tones introduced in The Shining, the daunting music transporting the audience back into a scarier time. Additionally, sets and shots from the original Kubrick film are brought back to remind the audience, as well as Danny Torrance, that no one can ever really leave past business unfinished. The overall feeling of Doctor Sleep is an exciting mix of creepy and thought-provoking details that make the experience entirely enjoyable. 

While the ghosts are terrifying and the special effects can keep anyone up at night, the film focuses more on the story of the people rather than relying on scares. One major thing Doctor Sleep did better than the original is create characters the audience actually cares about. Jack Torrance from The Shining was an uncaring husband and father whose violent tendencies were only exasperated by the Outlook, making him unlikeable at the start. However, Danny Torrance grows as a character and becomes a better version of himself, dealing with his past and his personal troubles in the process. 

The main thing Doctor Sleep has going against it, however, is its intense violence against children. The beings that feed off of other people’s “shine” believe that pain and fear make it taste better. This leads to the torture of their victims, one scene going into the depth of the child’s pain. These young actors deserve awards for their performance, as any viewer in the audience will be made uncomfortable by these disturbing scenes. 

Doctor Sleep is an overall enjoyable experience for even those viewers that disliked Kubrick’s original film. This includes the author himself, Stephen King, who notoriously hated the original movie but was quoted by Entertainment Weekly saying, “Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of  The Shining is redeemed for me here.” 

Likable characters, the thrill of nostalgia, the fear of being hunted, and amazing acting all around culminates in one of the greatest adaptations of a Stephen King novel to date.

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