Caila went to Meremac-STL for journalism and has been writing for most of her life.
Sequels... Are They Ever Good?
Everyone loves a good sequel, even if they do not do the original movie full justice, which they hardly ever do. It is always good to see an actor come back to play a beloved character in a franchise. What makes a sequel good or even have the potential to be just as good as the first movie is originality with continuity. Sequels should bring new ideas and a new plot to the forefront while successfully maintaining the charm and certain qualities that the first film exhibited to capture viewers in the first place. It has the tireless job of connecting the last plot to the new one, introducing new characters and reintroducing old characters, and telling a story about why they are where they are now from the last movie. Making a sequel is no easy job by any means, let alone making a good one.
Doctor Sleep is a novel, also by Stephen King, advancing his story from his classic prequel story, The Shining. We are welcomed back into the life of the main character, Danny, as he is now an adult with a life of his own, still with his 'Shine' powers, the life and problems he has had to after the traumatic incident with his mother and father at the Overlook Hotel back when he was a child in 1980. I was lucky to have seen The Shining before seeing this movie last year sometime. With it being my first time watching and never having read the book before, I thought Stanley Kubrick did a fantastic job with the work he presented, despite what the author of the story may think about the film. How did this movie hold up to the original though?
I love a good sequel to something I've seen before! This movie had me excited to see it when it first came out, especially since it seemed like that year every director was on a mission to create a BIG sequel to a really old movie from the 70's or 80's. I loved the Shining, so to see Danny all grown up was a concept that I knew would make for a good story. There is no way to grow up normal after what he went through with his father and the spirits at the Overlook. From the moment the movie began, you immediately see the comparisons and homages to 'The Shining'. I knew Danny would not be normal when he grew up in the back of my mind, but I did not think he would grow up to be a shitty person like he was portrayed in the beginning of the film.
I always liked the relationship between Danny and Dick Hallorann in the first movie when he was just a child learning about his ability to "shine". He understood Danny more than anyone else did in the film and loved him as much as his father should have at that time and I think that is what he needed at that time. I loved the concept of locking evil spirits and forces into a box that they cannot get out of and the act of the closure that you receive from it was extremely interesting to me and a GREAT way to expand upon the power of 'shining'. Dick showing him how to do that for his own sake helped to make their bond even more special to the viewer. Now his and Danny's relationship, as an adult, has been closed off almost because of Danny's indulgence in alcohol and his clear depression that he has not dealt with.
We soon come to learn of others who also have 'The Shining', which is something cool to hear about because we always knew from the first film that others do have the Shining, but now we get to see what others can do with their psychic powers and what other kinds of ways there are to 'shine'. There is, essentially, a circus of traveling supernatural characters who are stealing other people's shine for themselves and awakening others' powers to their full limitations. Rose the Hat, their leader, is a big part of displaying to the audience a lot of the powers that the 'shine' can have like a "looker". THIS ALL expands the story of the Shine! The movie takes place in chapters and Chapter One was just introducing a lot of the characters and unlocking new ideas behind the past movie.
Chapter Two dives deeper into the character's stories. We learn more about the circus of shine vampires and how they are almost dying off because of the lack of shine they're getting from people at this time. At first, I did not like the main character of their group, the leader, Rose the Hat. Obviously, you're not supposed to! She kills a child in the first chapter of the movie straight out the gate upon introduction. But I thought it was more of the actress I did not like, at first. I thought she was a caricature of the character she was supposed to be, but eventually she toned it down in the film a little bit and saved it for me.
We also meet Abra, a little girl who also has the 'shine', who communicates with Danny through it. Her 'shine' is actually stronger than Danny's because she has actively tried using it her whole life, even if she did not know it, whereas Danny has tried to suppress it constantly to forget his past. You do not realize it at first, but this movie is a redemption story. When you see how Danny purposefully spends his time dedicating it to getting better, not drinking, and trying to be a better person, you realize even more. The transition from him being a drunk to becoming Doctor Sleep is quick but you get over it because of the emotions that his new job as a hospice caretaker evoke. He uses his 'shine' for good now, to help the old people die peacefully and happily. I truly was touched by the way that Danny helped the old man find solace in his death and made it easy for him to pass along to the other side.
I liked the way that the movie was edited as a back and forth and the stories all being told separately initially, where none of the characters know one another or of one another really. By this point, you can see where the story is headed and how all of the storylines are going to connect.
By this time in the film, we are on Chapter 3, and this brings on infamous shots of the old, abandoned Overlook Hotel. With 'Doctor Sleep' being SO different from 'The Shining', these shots establish the fact that this is definitely a sequel without being too heavy handed about it. It pays good homage to the original classic shots of the scenery. We are now 8 years into the future and Danny is doing well in his position of Doctor Sleep and he and Abra have been communicating still via the 'shine'. Abra has the powers to see things that are across the country happening with her powers and realizes what Rose the Hat and her crew are doing to little kids, stealing their shine from them and killing them, as she and her team are still starving.
We get an EPIC 'Redrum' callback where Abra makes Danny aware of what is going on! We also get to see what these people with the 'shine' ability have to deal with. They are ostracized by their families and friends and everyone in their life that knows about it is almost afraid of them. I think the movie did a great job of emphasizing the loneliness and problems that they go through with their powers. Rose and her crew have figured out Abra and how much of the 'shine' she wields. They are deciding on whether to convert her over to their side or just keep her alive long enough to steal all her 'shine' so they can live off of it. Rose tries herself to get into Abra's mind with an outer body experience of astral projection, but it soon turns into a horror movie from that point onward.
The sounds, soundtrack and heartbeats really made this feel more tense and more like this movie was in a horror genre. Abra also contributed to it feeling this way. Once Rose gets into her mind, she finds out it is a mental trap that Abra set for her due to Danny's warning words against showing her 'shine' and attracting them to her power. She uses her powers so effectively that it is scary. The concept of looking into someone like they are a library and locking away demons in supernatural mental boxes was such a cool thing to add into this movie! It also draws out the emphasis that they put in the film on people being afraid to die.
At Chapter 5, we have less conflict with our adult characters than normal movies. Abra's father takes on to the idea of helping her and Danny to destroy these people who are after her 'shine' is put over much easier than it would have been in any other movie, but it was something that I looked past. There was no time for BS and slowing down their mission. We go from no inner confrontation to the bigger confrontations immediately. Abra, Danny and his best friend, who helped him get work and a home, all get the better of Rose the Hat and her crew at first but soon find themselves dwindled down to just Danny and Rose when their plan goes to the left. The kills in this film were absolutely great! Their powers were amazing to see be useful as offensive weapons in a way. Most of the deaths of Rose's crew were meaningless but it was still a spectacle to see them all fighting and the outcome.
Final Showdown and Coming Home
'What Was Forgotten' seemed like a good title for this chapter of the film. It is the introduction to the Overlook Hotel, which I am sure everyone was wondering how it would play a part in the story. There are great shots of the forest surrounding the hotel and the Overlook itself, displaying its ominous nature. The ghosts and the hotel has been forgotten and lost to time. Danny comes up with a plan to lure Rose to the Overlook Hotel that he is not disclosing with Abra. The hotel needs to be "awakened" by Danny's powers, as it knows who he is.
It probably is not the same hotel as the one from the 80's that Kubrick filmed at for the Overlook (and it would be really cool if it was), but the aesthetic of being "smaller than I remembered" claustrophobia makes you feel like you're walking in circles as you follow Danny around the hotel. While walking around with Danny in the Overlook, there are great callbacks that serve purpose to the story and still pays homage to the original movie, rather than just being fan service. Danny still wants to connect to his father after all of these years when he reaches the bar that we saw Jack Torrence sitting at talking to ghosts back in "The Shining".
He sees an apparition that looks like his father and has a conversation with it that reveals true feelings about his past and his life. This is another reason why these conversations are some of my favorite things about the movie, because it is still expanding on the lore of "The Shining" and the feelings of these characters from that story. I thought the Jack Nicholson replacement that they found was a good one, however I think he only looked like Jack afterwards from certain angles and with certain faces he would make and I soon lost the impression that it was Jack Torrence or his spirit. The hotel tries to take hold of Danny through his past and sway him, which I am sure that he was planning for and expecting in the first place from his talk with Dick earlier in the movie where he was warned that the hotel's spirits were trying to get to him ever since he left all those years ago.
When the final confrontation with Rose begins, you start to see where Danny's plan is going. It was an extremely smart plan and decisions he made to win the overall battle and save Abra. We even get an awesome scene in the hedge maze with Abra fending off Rose with her wits and a knife! Homage points again, although it is more heavy handed than the rest of the callbacks. By the end, I think, at first, I thought it was something that Danny did not think about all the way through himself, but upon re-watching and thinking about it, I think he may have thought it all the way through.
Danny sacrifices himself and kills Rose with starving demons and ghosts of the hotel, while allowing Abra to leave and get to safety as the hotel goes up in flames from one of Danny's traps. When Abra is reunited with her mother, she eventually breaks the cycle that all these supernaturally aware humans seem to have set, by telling her that she has been using her powers instead of forgetting about or suppressing them. Her mother is no longer afraid, it seems, and is far more open toward her daughter afterward, still loving her. This brought happiness to my heart to just know that Danny's sacrifice was not in vain and that it really only helped all the young kids to develop their 'the shine' overall!
My Final Thoughts
I was saddened by Danny's sacrifice because I half heartedly was wishing for a small franchise of movies about Doctor Sleep or at least another sequel to this film. However, upon rethinking that idea, I thought that it was perfect the way it ended and the way this story is ending for now. There were many parallels that this movie setup specifically for story purposes, the different elements of the supernatural 'shine' powers that they added, and how smart the film was. The soundtrack was even scary! Most things about this film made it a perfect sequel to "The Shining".
Doctor Sleep was a very intelligent movie and did exactly what a sequel is supposed to do that I spoke of earlier. It brought new ideas to a new plot, inaugurated new characters into the new plot, while sustaining the original's charm and what made it a good movie in the first place and connects the two separate stories together without being too much unnecessary fan service to the viewers and fans of the original product. I loved this movie. A LOT!!! It was such a smart film and everything that it needed to be. Be sure to check out my poll at the bottom of the blog!
Actors, Actresses, and Production!
|Actors/Actresses||Production Teams||Production Comapanies|
Stephen King (author of Doctor Sleep film is based on)
Intrepid Pictures (Production Company)
Mike Flanagan (Director, Editor and Screenplay Writer)
Vertigo Entertainment (Production Company)
Trevor Macy (Producer)
Warner Bros. Pictures (Distribution Company)
Jon Berg (Producer)
Michael Fimognari (Cinematographer)
The Newton Brothers (Music)
Doctor Sleep Movie Poll
This movie is A DIAMOND!!!
Money, Money, MONEY!!!
I am sure that this movie will become a cult classic one day, as it did not do as great in theaters as I would have thought it would have. It took on the high end about $55 million budget, which is a lot to work with for a film, however, it only made back around $72 million total. It isn't double what it cost to make but that should not diminish the greatness of the film and the plot itself. This is why I hope in the future everyone goes out of their way to see "The Shining" movie and the "Doctor Sleep" follow-up, because it really is a great sequel to an already amazing classic film. It makes me want to go buy both of the books the films are based on and read them both.