Film Review - Doctor Sleep

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ewan McGregor in a scene from “Doctor Sleep.”

Do you ever have reoccurring nightmares – scary dreams that resurface to terrify you?

That’s Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep.”

The new movie takes up the scary story of King’s “The Shining” several decades after an ax-wielding Jack Nicholson shouted “Here’s Johnnnny!” while going uproariously insane at the snowbound Overlook Hotel, a hostelry infested with ghosts and evil spirits.

However, “Doctor Sleep” focuses on Danny Torrance. You will remember him as the kid who rode his trike around the hotel and muttered “REDRUM!” – “murder” spelled backward.

Having survived the story told in King’s 1977 novel (and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie), Dan has migrated to New Hampshire where he works in a hospice. He uses his inborn psychic abilities (known as “the shining”) to provide comfort to dying patients. He is assisted by a prescient cat. Because of his ability to give comfort, he becomes known as Doctor Sleep.

But Dan’s peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a teenager with her own powerful “shine.” Now they are both being pursued by The True Knot, a malevolent group of quasi-immortals who feed off the shine.

Uh-oh.

In this spooky sequel, Dan (Ewan McGregor) and Abra (Kyliegh Curran) engage in a life-or-death battle with Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). This psychic struggle reawakens the ghosts of the past. Once again, we meet Dick Hollorann, the cook from the Overlook Hotel (Scatman Crothers in the original film, now played by Carl Lumby). We also encounter those eerie Grady twins from the first movie (originally Lisa and Louise Burns, now portrayed by Sadie and Kk Heim).

Dan’s mother Wendy is also back (Shelley Duvall from the first movie is replaced by Alex Essoe).

“Doctor Sleep” is currently creeping out audiences at AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8, 925 W. Andrew Johnson Highway.

King got the idea of writing a sequel to “The Shining” at a 1998 book signing when somebody asked him what happened to Danny. King started thinking about where Danny and his mother, Wendy, would be now. So, he wrote “Doctor Sleep” to find the answer for himself.

When it came to the movie version, director Mike Flannagan had to convince King that it had to pay homage to Stanley Kubrick’s famous film. Despite that movie’s universal acclaim, it’s well known King never liked Kubrick’s take, preferring the later television mini-series. But Flannigan pointed out that audiences were more familiar with Kubrick’s film.

Thus, Flanagan went to great lengths to recreate elements of Kubrick’s horror classic, but he’s also deviating from it in some big ways, such as the return of Hallorann, who died in “The Shining.”

Yes, “Doctor Sleep” answers the question of what happened to Danny Torrance, but many moviegoers are asking what happened to Danny Lloyd, the 6-year-old actor who played him in Kubrick’s “The Shining”? Turns out, Lloyd retired after making only one more film, stating that he wasn’t interested in an acting career. He grew up to become a biology professor at a community college in Kentucky.

Scottish actor McGregor (“Star Wars,” “Moulin Rouge”) is roughly the same age as Danny Lloyd. He beat out Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner for the new role.

Back when filming “The Shining,” young Danny Lloyd didn’t know he was acting in a horror movie. Although Stanley Kubrick was notoriously rough on his adult actors, he was protective with Danny. “He wanted me to act scared, but he didn’t want me to be scared of anything,” Lloyd says. “There were days when I wasn’t allowed on set because of something they were shooting.”

He admits that he never saw the complete movie until he was a teenager.

Now, based on viewing the trailer for “Doctor Sleep,” Lloyd confirms: “It looked really good. I was curious since there is a fine line they have to walk with Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick. It looks like they found a way to pay tribute to both.”

In “Doctor Sleep,” moviegoers with sharp eyes will catch Danny Lloyd doing a cameo as “Man in Stand.”

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at srhoades@aol.com.

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