'Doctor Sleep' (Director's Cut) Review

'Doctor Sleep' (Director's Cut) Review

Rating: ★★★★★

After directing the loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel 'The Haunting of Hill House', Mike Flanagan is back in the directing chair helming his second Stephen King adaptation, 'Doctor Sleep'. Based on the 2013 novel of the same name, the movie follows an alcoholic and traumatised older Dan Torrence as he tries to find peace, constantly running away from his problems. But that peace is shattered when he encounters courageous teenager Abra, whose powerful 'Shine' is attracting the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers The True Knot.

As for the performances, they are spectacular! Ewan McGregor is excellent as the older Dan. The way he expresses his emotions through body language is mesmerising to watch. Rebecca Ferguson is the stand-out as the deliciously evil Rose the Hat. It is truly incredible how she, with help from the screenplay and direction, was able to make such a fearful yet energetic villain. She gives the best horror villain performance since Bill Skarsgård first got in the clown suit in 'It' (2017). Kyliegh Curran gives one of the best child performances of 2019 as Abra Stone, a young woman with a very strong Shine. Never does she feel amateur or unengaging. There is also a cameo from a young actor in this movie and while I won't be spoiled who it is, I will say that their short performance was phenomenal!

Those going into 'Doctor Sleep' expecting jumpscares and constant scares will most likely be disappointed. Much like Flanagan's other work and Kubrick's 'The Shining', this film is more about the characters. While it is listed as a horror film, it works extremely well as a drama. But that is not to say 'Doctor Sleep' is not without its handful of scary, shocking and disturbing scenes. One feature a ghost woman in a bed will stay with you for days, weeks even, all thanks to the director's famous style of implied horror rather than showing what happened. 

Standing at three hours in length, 'Doctor Sleep' (Director's Cut) never feels too slowly paced, long or boring. Flanagan, who also edited the film, let scenes play out for just the right amount of time to keep a constant momentum and to never feel like the movie is overstaying its welcome. It is also hard to imagine there even being a cut of this film that doesn't feature twenty-eight minutes of footage. Every scene feels necessary for the expand the fleshed-out characters and complex and layered plot.

There are some minor and major elements in this film that, depending on how you think the execution is done and the implementation being necessary, may be the be-all and end-all on whether or not you will like or dislike the movie. Some scenes ask you to just go with it, there is a heap of unsubtle 'The Shining' fan service in the third act and they use actors to portray pre-existing characters, but whether or not it bothers you is up to how you think they are implemented and executed. For this reviewer, he didn't mind them at all and could buy into what was happening. The use of fan service was much more than nostalgia baiting and serviced a purpose in the story. It is easy to look past some scenes that ask you just to go with it given how great the pay-offs to those moments are.

With the difficult task of making a movie that would both work as a sequel to the horror classic 'The Shining' as well as please Stephen King's vision of his story, director Mike Flanagan succeeds in spades, proving yet again he is one of the best horror directors working today. 'Doctor Sleep' (Director's Cut) is a tense, bone-chilling and at times terrifying masterpiece. Featuring skilful performances, a heartbreaking yet beautiful story and a nuanced screenplay, this is one of the best horror films of the past decade. Don't sleep on this film!