Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
Much like Kubrick’s The Shining changed the end of King’s book, Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep decided to do something different from its novel, and …why? I completely understand that King’s endings are sometimes the weakest part of his stories, his long ones anyway, the he doesn’t always wrap up well, but that’s because there isn’t a great way to end a great story, sometimes there’s not going to be a satisfactory way to stop because we don’t want it to, or simply because real life doesn’t have a final page. Regardless, this film version of King’s sequel rides well until the end, because it follows the text until then, and did this director really think he was going to be able to think of a better way to close the doors than Stephen King did?
Danny Torrence is all grown up now, having put the Overlook, his father, and the literal ghosts of his past behind him. But in order to do that, in order to move on and mute his shine from the spirits who look to plague him, he’s turned to his father’s trusty old sidekick, booze, and it’s eaten up his life. Miraculously stumbling upon a quaint town where there are people who want to help him, Dan is now sober, but now the real challenges start. He’ll have to teach a little girl how to control her shine, and how to ward off those who would consume it, as a group of vagabond vampires seek the powerful shiners so they can suck their very souls.
So many good parts, so many bad ones, and that basically summarizes this film. It’s not as good as the book, which makes sense, because Kubrick’s wasn’t as good as its source material either, and this movie definitely bows down to Kubrick, and follows that film much more than it does this book, even down to what’s available to work with at the end, when the versions diverge. It’s like we are living it two Shining universes; sign me up for the literary one. But, really, it’s not all bad. McGregor was an odd choice, mostly because hiding his accent didn’t work too well for his acting, and the same goes for Ferguson. The girl was just plain awful, and most child actors are, but honestly she was even worse than the norm. The film still worked, though, especially when it stuck to the book, because the book is so strong, and it wobbled when it started to follow Kubrick at the end, because that pathway simply isn’t as solid under foot. It could have been much better, we’ve seen it happen, and it could have been much worse, since so many other King adaptations are; this one is only half bad.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆