If I had to describe “Doctor Sleep” in one word, I would choose strange. The recasting, story and visuals were all strange.
“Doctor Sleep” is a sequel to the 1980 classic, “The Shining.” The original had an amazing story, great cinematography and incredible acting. This wasn’t exactly replicated in the sequel, but some aspects were positive nonetheless.
During the movie, certain scenes from “The Shining” are recreated, but instead of reusing the footage from the original movie, or doing a deepfake (a special effect that involves putting a celebrity’s face on someone else), as in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” for Princess Leia Organa or “The Fast And The Furious 7” for Brian O’Conner, the director decided to recast the scenes with new actors that only partially looked liked the original actors. In lieu of this, characters from the original movie showed up in “Doctor Sleep,” which at times was confusing because it was not entirely clear if it was the same character or not. For example, in one scene, main character Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, is at the Overlook Hotel, where he goes to the gold room to have a drink. The bartender is Jack Torrance (Dan’s father), but it was sort of confusing because the scene ends so quickly that you aren’t really sure it was Jack Torrance.
The story was very supernatural and illogical at times. During one scene, a teenage girl joins a cult, wherein the girl feels as if she is dying for a while, so she screams loudly over and over, flailing around. This scene takes place on a public beach in the middle of the day, so it makes no sense that the cult wouldn’t get caught or at least noticed.
On the other hand, there were some good supernatural elements, such as how in one scene, the main antagonist, Rose The Hat, played by Rebecca Ferguson, breaks into the mind of a little girl named Abra Stone, played by Kyleigh Curran, and searches through the file cabinets of her memories. This scene is pretty cool because it puts an interesting take on how memories are stored in our brains.
The visuals in this movie were also very strange and, similarly to the plotline, made no sense at times. For example, when Rose breaks into Abra’s mind, Abra suddenly appears with blue straight hair instead of curly brown hair — no eyeballs — without explanation. Another strange, unexplained part is how when the cult members die, their bodies disappear even though other people’s bodies, which shine (the term for telepathic abilities in the movie), don’t.
Also, the movie was not scary. There were few, if any, jump scares, and the music provided little to no intensity, which was disappointing, especially for a so-called horror movie.
However, one scene was definitely unsettling. The cult has kidnapped a little kid, known as “baseball boy,” and tortures him to death. The cult members do this to harness power or energy, enabling them to live forever — or at least a really long time. The kid in the movie is only 9 years old, adding to the disturbing nature of the scene. The camera cuts in and out from showing the boy getting murdered to Abra seeing the whole event by shining (the movie’s term for the telepathic powers Abra and Dan have). Every time it cuts back to the boy, there is more blood splattered on his face. The torture and stabbing are not visible, but the boy keeps screaming in a way that’s very realistic and terrifying. This is the best scene in the movie because it’s the only one that actually stuck with me.
But overall, this movie was pretty bad. It was confusing and didn’t honor the amazing first installment of the series.
—By Dylan Margolis