Guest Review: Doctor Sleep [2019]

Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ Iɴᴅᴇx —

a review by The Film Aficionado.
(curated by the Crow.)

The Crow: This review originally appeared on The Film Aficionado, written by the eponymous Film Aficionado. Like his friend the Swan(!) and the Vulture, the Film Aficionado is an actor and part-time critic.

While each of us on The Corvid Review have varying styles and approaches to reviews, we nontheless follow a general outline. In the case of The Film Aficionado, I think it’s best to let his personal methodology remain. I personally do not score movies out of four, despite my obsession with the number, but he does, and I think it best that his original score remain unchanged. An adapted “scaled” rating will be attached to the end of this post.

Doctor Sleep
dir. Mike Flanagan

SPOILER LEVELS at CONSIDERABLE

Doctor Sleep is the long-awaited sequel to The Shining; a sequel suggesting that most or even all the spooky going ons happened in the original were of a supernatural nature. Now regarding The Shining (before I get some backlash), I want to say that in my opinion Stanley Kubrick (the director of The Shining) is the best director of all time. He explored in all of his films the dark side of human nature, a good example from his movies is when characters are put in difficult situations and they display a cold and remorseless reaction. I have personally always found this interesting, and he is the only director apart from Christopher Nolan who has examined the nature of the human psyche as a conceptual illustrator of the human condition. However, The Shining, I thought for a horror film, for the most part was not scary. It worked more when trying to be funny and succeeded at that and overall was just a solid film. (The only blot on Kubrick’s resume is 1956’s The Killing.)

Doctor Sleep starts off in an eerie fashion, but doesn’t continue quite in the same vein, for most of the film. Some kind of supernatural force that is never fully explained eats and drinks the spirit (basically the life from children who can “shine”). For those who didn’t see the original, “shining” is when someone can communicate telepathically with the dead or another person who also possesses the gift. Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), all grown up now, finds it difficult to deal with the harrowing natures that took place at the Overlook Hotel (from The Shining) and living with his stifling curse/gift.

When some murders take place from the unexplained evil entities, he uses his gift to get in contact with a unique individual child who may have the talent of stopping these beings from further murders. Now this sounds like a enticing concept, but after a while this film turns out to be the stuff of nonsense. Yes, I know all of the James Bond films are this and more, but this film becomes ridiculous after a while in its depiction of otherwordly “entities” and is all over the place narratively. Revealing powers not seen earlier in the film from the protagonists and antagonists that just made me roll my eyes in disappointment, thinking oh please! The rules and powers of each character with supernatural gifts are endless. In my opinion there should have been less to do with the fantasy side of things and more psychological exploration. The film also needed more substance, like about what makes each character tick, which is explored lightly. Something Kubrick in no doubt would have studied and brought to fruition if in the writer/director’s chair.

Otherwise, if it wasn’t such a mess, story-wise there would be a good film somewhere in this sequel. Now this isn’t to say this film is terrible. It’s not as good as the original. Now while that ain’t saying much, it does have some good scenes. One of note is a callback to the Overlook Hotel used in the original film, reuniting Danny and the audience with Jack Nicholson’s character Jack Torrance from the original film. Played by a different actor (Henry Thomas), but with the same intensity and nuance. Another good scene involved a deceased character telling the protagonist how to deal with spirits that come to them in their everyday life. In it, Danny is told (as a child) that when he sees evil characters that he should use “boxes” to store the evil forces that come to him.

There are some inventive and memorable moments in Doctor Sleep and I admire it for being innovative, but overall it is a missed opportunity.

— Adios!

The Crow: Before we sign off, I would like to remind you to hop over to The Film Aficionado and take a look at the rest of his reviews.

— Crow out.


Final Ratings

THE FILM AFICIONADO: 2.5/4
[TCR SCALING SYSTEM: 6.5/10]


Here’s one of the official posters:

1 thought on “Guest Review: Doctor Sleep [2019]”

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