After finishing watching Doctor Sleep, it was baffling to me that this ended up being THE horror film that bombed at the box office in 2019. This has the right ingredients, the right amount of creepiness and its own flavour when it comes to Stephen King adaptations. It doesn’t ride the coattails of 1980’s The Shining, instead Mike Flanagan’s vision does show here. Even though I heard complains about its theatrical runtime, for this review I did watch the 3-hour director’s cut.
The level of horror elements in this one hits the sweet spot, especially considering the increasing absurdity in sound design that has been a plague for the horror genre lately. Doctor Sleep doesn’t underestimate the viewer, opting to signal the chill-factor with well-executed camera pans and letting your eyes find the scares instead of blasting them through your skull. Ewan McGregor (Danny) and Kyliegh Curran (Abra) bring a surprisingly dynamic duo on to the screen with each doing a great performance and even carrying their own individual scenes. All the scenes at the Overlook Hotel pay a great homage to The Shining while also using it as an important piece in moving the plot.
The film stumbles somewhat in its build-up to a big ending. It’s also where the runtime gets to you, as instead of a slow rise, the tension randomly goes up and down for much of the middle third. This makes a lot of scenes seem like a drag and wanting you to take a bathroom break as nothing significant is happening. There seem to also be a bit of miscasting going on when it comes to side characters. Emily Alyn Lind and Zahn McClarnon seem to constantly lose their respective characters in the scenes, being in particular noticeable whenever McGregor is there.
Smileys: Horror elements, Kyliegh Curran, Ewan McGregor, costume department, sound editing
Frowneys: Pacing and runtime, casting of the side characters
Doctor Sleep won’t put you to sleep despite the length, it’s a fine adaptation.