The movie falls a little flat in the third act when they arrive at the Overlook. It started to feel like one of those made-for-Youtube fan made sequels. I get that they had to reference the movie since more people are familiar with it than the novel, but they could’ve just done it with brief flashbacks.
The last 30 mins or so are absolutely amazing and kudos to Flanagan for pulling it off. Ewan McGregor does a great job as an adult Danny Torrance and Rebecca Ferguson captivates as Rose the Hat. The film sets a great tone with some stunning visuals and the score completely grabs you. How much you enjoy this film really depends on what you want out of it. There’s practically no gore here and no cheap jump scares. What you’ll get though is expert filmmaking from someone who you can tell really loves the source material he’s pulling it all in from.
In terms of how the film emulates the Kubrick film in both continuation and in style, it does make several referential callbacks yet only sparingly and manages to tell a solid story about good triumphing over the wicked. As Dan develops his way through past tragedies and alcoholism, it gives his character more of an edge that comes from the scars his father and other disturbing beings left on him. The cinematography and shot composition is the most imitative of Kubrick’s visual language, although the digital cinematography can’t help but make the film lack that special glow that made Kubrick’s movie so creepy (the dark shades and colors are effective enough though).
I find Kubrick’s The Shining to be one of the most overrated films of all time and a terrible adaptation to the book, not very scary at all, and very worthy of it’s Razzle Nominations in 1980. This has been a year full of decent to good Stephen King movie adaptations but Doctor Sleep is the best one of the year, without a doubt. Doctor Sleep is actually one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made and the best since The Green Mile in 1999..20 years ago. The Shawshank Redemption still being the best though, in my opinion.
With only one writer in the director, we get a helpful streamlined narrative. Flanagan devotes fair amounts of screen-time to his three leads in order to establish them, but the first act focuses on Dan and his journey to normalcy before the second act introduces him to Abra. We only see him and the True Knot for the first half, but we do get to meet Abra as a little girl when her Shine first surfaces, but she becomes a key player once she hits thirteen and the cult seeks her essence. This is actually for the benefit of the narrative so we can follow Dan first as he establishes his normal life and his friendship with the unseen Abra, keeping him the main focus before it becomes about him, Abra and their battle against the True Knot. Flanagan stays pretty faithful to the novel like he did with “Gerald’s Game”, but does change up moments during the story especially the ending which actually gives closure to Dan and has a cheeky implication if you’ve seen “The Shining”.
The most surprising and impressive thing this film manages to do though is combine both elements of King’s novel as well as Kubrick’s film, and be its own film at the same time. It’s something that sounds nearly impossible but this film managed to pull it off brilliantly. No it’s obviously not as good as The Shining, but it’s definitely a worthy sequel.