Even the demons have demons in this scary-good adap­ta­tion of Stephen King’s se­quel

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS KNIGHT

The Shin­ing se­quel is wicked good

If a bad dream could have its own night­mare, it would prob­a­bly look some­thing like Doc­tor Sleep. This adap­ta­tion of Stephen King’s se­quel to his novel The Shin­ing — with a heavy tip of the hat to Stan­ley Kubrick’s film ver­sion — man­ages to be at once scary and thought­ful in its pre­sen­ta­tion.

After a brief pro­logue in 1980 — the set­ting of Kubrick’s movie, in which Jack Ni­chol­son’s char­ac­ter ter­ror­izes his wife and son Danny in the snow­bound Over­look Ho­tel — we’re trans­ported to

2011 New Jersey, where a nowadult Danny (Ewan Mc­gre­gor), is bat­tling the demons of al­co­holism, as well as ac­tual demons, thanks to his “shine.” (More on that in a mo­ment.) He moves to small-town New Hamp­shire to pull him­self to­gether.

Then to the present day. Danny is now eight years sober. Abra Stone (as­sured new­comer Kyliegh Cur­ran) is a 13-year-old grap­pling with her own de­vel­op­ing men­tal pow­ers. And Rose (Re­becca Fer­gu­son) is keep­ing her­self and a group of fol­low­ers eter­nally young by sac­ri­fic­ing chil­dren, eat­ing their screams and drink­ing their pain. It’s Mon­sters, Inc., with real mon­sters.

These three will col­lide when Abra is over­whelmed by the pain of a mur­dered lit­tle boy (Ja­cob Trem­blay) and reaches out to Danny, while Rose gets wind of

these two pow­er­ful would-be ad­ver­saries and de­cides they need to be elim­i­nated. All this is done through their “shin­ing” pow­ers, which are never per­fectly ex­plained, but seem to en­com­pass as­tral pro­jec­tion, telepa­thy, hyp­no­sis and the abil­ity to visit some­one else’s mem­ory palace.

“It’s like a li­brary,” Abra says wisely, after a dip into Rose’s mind. “I guess we’re all like li­braries on the in­side.”

Also, the essence Rose con­sumes is re­ferred to as “steam” and is kept in nifty Ther­mos-like flasks. Ev­ery­one has some in them, but it’s get­ting weaker these days, which some­one in the film at­tributes to “cell­phones, diet or Net­flix.”

I knew it!

Writer-di­rec­tor Mike Flana­gan (Ocu­lus, The Haunt­ing of Hill House) walks a del­i­cate line be­tween King ’s work and that of Kubrick. The re­sult lacks the visual for­mal­ism of Kubrick’s cin­e­matic ge­nius, and will never in­spire a what’s-it-all-about doc like the ex­cel­lent 2012 deep dive that is Room 237, but it still re­mains a stand­out ad­di­tion to the hor­ror genre.

Doc­tor Sleep is not with­out its weak­nesses, in­clud­ing an over­re­liance on heart­beat noises — hon­estly, you’d think you were watch­ing Poe’s Tell-tale Heart — and a ter­ri­bly weak catch­phrase for the vil­lain: “Hi there!” It’s like be­ing stalked by an old Peter Gabriel mu­sic video.

But there is some lovely cam­era work at play — one scene gives new mean­ing to the phrase “drop­ping in on some­one” — and an odd­ity not of­ten seen in hor­ror films, where the scary evil en­ti­ties must face their own demons. It bleeds some of the ter­ror out of the pic­ture, which sounds like a neg­a­tive for the genre — but isn’t that what fac­ing your fears is sup­posed to ac­com­plish?


Doc­tor Sleep stars Ewan Mc­gre­gor as a grown-up ver­sion of Danny Tor­rance, the lit­tle boy with psy­chic abil­i­ties in Stan­ley Kubrick’s hor­ri­fy­ing 1980 film The Shin­ing.

Doc­tor Sleep takes up where The Shin­ing left off. Re­becca Fer­gu­son, left, stars as Rose The Hat; a cult preys on chil­dren; and Roger Dale Floyd plays a young ver­sion of Ewan Mc­gre­gor’s char­ac­ter.

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