¨Doctor Sleep¨ – A sleeper pick that no one asked for

The “Shining” sequel 39 years in the making is widely anticipated and puts a spin on the classic Stanley Kubrick film.


Zach Kaplan, Junior Editor-in-Chief

It’s extremely difficult to follow up on a revered film with one of the same standards. “Airplane,” “Halloween,” “Die Hard” (not a Christmas movie),” and “Mission Impossible” are a few of dozens of classic movies that  had sequels that matched up with the original.

“Doctor Sleep” is the sequel to Stephen King’s “The Shining” book. King wrote the sequel in 2013, and after rave reviews of the book, it got a film adaptation. In the film, which is  a whopping two hours and 31 minutes, we see a grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) partner with Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), a teenager with superhuman “shining” powers, try to take down Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her evil cult of “shiners” desperate for steam, what someone expels when they die.

This superhuman realm is albeit a confusing one, especially because the powers of “shining” isn’t really fleshed out in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, which is probably the reason Kubrick’s original film was so good–it left a lot of questions asked. 

But in “Doctor Sleep,” all of the questions about shining are answered and in doing so, buffs the film to 151 minutes when it could probably have just been two hours and no one would have minded. 

Scatman Crothers’ character in “The Shining” puts it well as to what The Shining actually is. He says it’s a “fusion of telepathy and clairvoyance,” which means that those who can shine can communicate with others using the mind, gives people the ability to see in the past or future. 

Rose the Hat is one of many “quasi-immortals” in the True Knot, which is a cult that recruits people by addicting them to steam, which is released by those with the Shining when they die. 

If they don’t get their share of the steam, they die. And the most horrifying part is the more one is tortured pre-death, the better the steam is, leading to gory, bloody deaths of those who don’t need to die. 

The steam seems like a euphemism for poverty and hunger. The topic comes up a lot because often Rose will use the phrase “feeding well” to describe how she lives a long life, but without quality steam by more “talented” shiners, so to speak, she isn’t feeding well. It could be interpreted that the members of the True Knot are hungry, and will do anything, even kill someone, to obtain steam. 

As for Ewan McGregor’s character, a grown-up Danny Torrence, he carries the plot on his shoulders. 

Dan Torrence as an adult is exactly the guy we expected to be having survived a childhood of abuse, trauma which culminated in the tale at the Overlook Hotel we all know. Grown-up Danny is a former alcoholic who dashes from town to town to avoid getting seen and is first seen taking the money of a single mom who he just had a one-night stand with. 

McGregor’s washed-up character tries to change, and he goes to AA, obtains a job as an orderly in a hospice, and with the help of a cat, who likely has the shining, figures out who is dying and helps ease them into death by normalizing it as falling asleep, earning him the moniker of ‘Doctor Sleep,’ the film’s namesake. 

McGregor does a great job exemplifying the scars that his ordeal at the Overlook Hotel in 1980 left on him. When Abra finds him in a fictional town of Frazier, New Hampshire, she details to him Rose’s plans. Torrence, recognizing that this is going to be similar to the ordeal he faced at the Overlook, tries to play it off and tells Abra to let it go and not let the True Knot find them. 

A very refreshing character was Abra Stone, played by Kyliegh Curran, who is only 13, but plays the role of a naive girl facing a cult with just her wit and superpowers. Similar to Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven in the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things,’ Curran diversifies the cast with her youthful energy. 

But without the characters, and McGregor and Curran carrying the movie, it’s 2 ½ hours of a tale which is painfully slow, and felt way too fleshed out. The difference between the sequel and its legendary precursor is Stanley Kubrick’s version accomplishes a story filled with well-drawn out characters and suspense, and mystique which withholds several details leaving the audience confused in a good way.

In the end, it’s a solid movie, but if it were never made, we would’ve still had “The Shining”–and the ending of the classic movie didn’t really require a sequel. The 1980 flick ended with Jack Torrence finding out he has ultimate jurisdiction over the Overlook Hotel and with Danny going away with Wendy, his mom. So if this movie were never made, I’d be fine with it, but it’s still a solid movie which, for Shining superfans, comes as a refresher.