Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
Release Date: February 4, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the “shine.” Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality.
Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before—at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
*The Director’s Cut Version of the film is available on Blu-ray and Digital
‘Doctor Sleep’ continues the story of young Danny Torrance from ‘The Shining’ who remains scarred after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel so many years prior. Now, an adult himself going by Dan and repeating many of his father’s bad habits, he eventually finds himself inexplicably pulled to a small town where he finds new friends, sobriety and even steady work in a hospice unit helping folks who are about to pass do so in comfort, earning the title of Doctor Sleep as a result. But when a young girl who shines more than Dan ever did and shares a connection with him finds herself marked as potential prey for a group of long-living beings who call themselves The True Knot and feed off of shining children pleads for Dan’s help, he can’t refuse the call. Now he’ll have to share what he knows of their gift and find a way to stop these deadly beings before they can reach the girl and it’s too late.
Directed by talented filmmaker Mike Flanagan (TV’s The Haunting of Hill House, Gerald’s Game) from his own screenplay which was of course based upon the novel of the same name by Stephen King respectively, Flanagan does an outstanding job at the helm of ‘Doctor Sleep’ guiding along the powerful tale with passion and capturing all of the heart as well as the terror within. The film also benefits a great deal from a cast that features a number of talented individuals and includes Ewan McGregor (Christopher Robin), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Kyliegh Curran (I Can I Will I Did) and Cliff Curtis (The Meg) along with many more, nearly all offering fitting and highly capable performances in each of their respective roles and helping this heartfelt adaption work so well.
‘Doctor Sleep’ is a powerful, mesmerizing and downright phenomenal piece of filmmaking that manages to find a way of cleverly appeasing a number of clashing opinions in a manner many expected unattainable. Simultaneously making for a relatively faithful adaption of Stephen King’s sequel novel of the same name, while also serving as a film sequel to Kubrick’s film adaption of ‘The Shining’ which famously strayed a great deal from its source material (much to the chagrin of King personally), and not only managing to accomplish both of these tasks flawlessly but even going so far as to fix some elements from ‘The Shining’ film that diehard fans of the book took issue with. It’s an impressive feat in every respect and ‘Doctor Sleep’ seems to effortlessly find a way of keeping all sides content (as well as author Stephen King himself) and at the same time delivering a touching, beautifully crafted and often unsettling piece of dramatic horror in its own right that’s a true pleasure to see come to life so superbly. Filmmaker Mike Flanagan once again manages to amaze, doing a spectacular job of passionately guiding along this adaption and tackling some nearly impossible challenges just in doing so and his masterful work behind the camera is greatly complimented by a perfectly selected cast led by Ewan McGregor that never falters or disappoints.
As far as the Director’s Cut of ‘Doctor Sleep’ is concerned in comparison with the Theatrical Version, the new edition of the film has a running length of 3 Hours, 14 seconds while the Theatrical Version has a duration of 2 hours, 32 minutes, 1 second; therefore offering just shy of thirty additional minutes as promised. While the Director’s cut of the movie does include a few new sequences, much of the added content is expanded scenes throughout, with little tidbits or even parts of conversations extended left and right. It offers more insight into the True Knot and Rose the Hat, in addition to more time with young Danny and his Mother, and even some extra material at the Overlook. Another notable difference between the two cuts is that the Director’s cut also breaks the film down by chapters which makes a more literary and thorough offering of the material which is always a nice approach for an adaption of a novel broken down in much the same way. I personally haven’t had a chance to revisit Stephen King’s novel of ‘Doctor Sleep’ since it was first released in hardback but I believe some, if not all of the director’s cut chapter names may have in fact been taken directly from the book if I’m not mistaken.
Overall, ‘Doctor Sleep’ is a spectacular film loaded with heart, terror and an enthralling tale that you won’t be able to look away from; expertly crafted and brought to life every step of the way. It’s another truly impressive offering from filmmaker Mike Flanagan and now fans can dive even further into this powerful film with the brand new three hour Director’s Cut version included in the release which fans definitely won’t want to miss out on. For fans of Stephen King’s stories/work as well as fans of filmmaker Mike Flanagan and even of Kubrick’s film adaption of ‘The Shining’, I can’t possibly recommend ‘Doctor Sleep’ highly enough. It miraculously manages to please the fans of each and the conflicting opinions of the material debated amongst them by somehow finding an almost unfathomable middle ground that offers a satisfying result for all; not to mention making for a thoroughly fantastic film in its own right.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Doctor Sleep’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio for both the Theatrical Version and the Director’s Cut; with each version of the feature provided its own Blu-ray disc for optimum quality. The video presentations both look phenomenal and provide sharp, smooth and richly detailed presentations from start to finish with no noticeable faults or troubles to be found along the way. They hold up beautifully even during the darkly lit, fast moving and heavily populated sequences, never allowing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, both versions/discs offer fantastic high definition video presentations that shouldn’t have any trouble pleasing the fans as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack on both versions of the film. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentations. These multichannel soundtracks both offer crisp, clean and frequently aggressive audio presentation throughout that perfectly compliment the onscreen unease, beauty and terror every step of the way. They repeatedly take full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send music, bullets, shrieks and creepy noises along with bits of dialogue and plenty more throughout the various speakers whenever the opportunity allows, and never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, these are wonderful Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1) soundtracks that deliver splendidly in every way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Doctor Sleep’ includes some enjoyable extras (all of which can be found on the ‘Theatrical Version’ disc) in the way of a few Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore different aspects of bringing the film to life, featuring behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast, crew and even author Stephen King himself. The included Featurettes are: ‘From Shining to Sleep’ (running approximately 5 minutes in length), ‘The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision’ (running approximately 14 minutes) and ‘Return to the Overlook’ (approximately 15 minutes).