Doctor Sleep

It's been some time since a film made me this actively upset. I felt actual anger coursing through me as every subsequent plot point had my eyes rolling farther-and-farther back. Doctor Sleep is almost exactly what I feared - a Kubrick inspired, true-to-novel King adaptation that wants to operate under the established tone of the original film while obtrusively adding the over-the-top supernatural nature of the book that Kubrick more ambiguously inserts into his version. Flannagan wants the best of both worlds and what he provides is a derivative, unbalanced film that fails to be anything more than a Dragon Ball Z power struggle between the main characters. Losing the feeling of the original while desperately trying to evoke Kubrick's vision. The entirety of the Overlook sequence is a culmination of all the things I genuinely hate about this film, messily inserted into one badly designed scene. Creatively bankrupt filmmaking in some regards.

Let me preface this by saying, I've seen The Shining more than any other film. I hold it in such high regard that any film that tries to replicate it (and there's been a few) will draw out my ultra-critical eye and anything less, like in Doctor Sleep, will get the full wrath of my fury. So, there's a chance you'll enjoy more Kings-ian aspects of the film or the fact that he derives a great deal from the famous Kubrick set designs and iconic portrayal of the Torrance family and Overlook, but to me, it's a complete and total disaster of an experience.

Starting off with the supernatural elements, and the "steam" that the central antagonist live off. This type of writing is where King novels aren't necessarily made for the screen, and the more we get to learn about these inhumane cannibalistic group the more ridiculous they come across. Rebecca Ferguson (Rose the Hat) is one of the lone bright spots, but her character, along with all of the antagonist, are all one-note and lacking any sort of layers. There's no mystery behind them. And the way Flanagan gets an emotional, angry response out of the audience is done so blatantly obvious.

Relating to my main issue with the film in how obvious and unambiguous this film comes across. Flanagan leaves it all out in the open. This makes the last act of the film so painfully bad and the supernatural elements distracting. Using the same characters, down to the costumes and prosthetics, of the Kubrick version while maddeningly betraying what made those elements great in the first place with their subtlety. It even features a scene where the ghost of Jack Torrance faces Danny at the iconic Overlook Gold Room bar, but the imitation is so bad that is wasn't impactful in the slightest and again, distracting from the main tension in the plot.

The main conflict puts Flanagan in a bind. You can sense a great passion for Kubrick's work, but is glued to the King source material that is a straight departure from the original film. And he tries to straddle the center of both and ends up with something so flat and uninteresting. Every character dilemma is excruciatingly surface level and the main action of the plot is simply tracking people down through the Shine. And for a movie with this runtime, it's incredibly draining and drags down the most interesting aspects. There's too many subplots that add nothing to the central conflict. In terms of structure, I found Doctor Sleep to be all over the map without a strong enough vision to keep it on the rails.

Suffice it to say, there's so many moments that I simply couldn't stand and I could spend hours picking apart this film. Add in the artificial aesthetic design of the lighting and the reliance on the original score to generate that overwhelming feeling making it unclear on what they were trying to accomplish here. I do appreciate the set designs, but when they literally recreate scenes from The Shining I feel taken out of the story completely. All my fears about Doctor Sleep came true.


Rating: 20

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