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Movie Review: "Doctor Sleep"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 11/8/2019

Theatrical Release: 11/8/2019


Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) has grown up, but he is still haunted by what he experienced when he was a boy. Dan has a gift that he refers to as the Shining. It allows him to telepathically communicate with other people, but it also makes him a target for hungry spirits. Spirits want his shine, and when he was a boy, Dan’s father took him to a haunted hotel, known as the Overlook Hotel. The spirits there were hungry, and while he made it out of the hotel alive, the spirits formed a connection to him. By adulthood, Dan has found a way to deal with these spirits, and he now works as a hospice nurse. He uses his ability to help dying patients find peace in their final moments, for which they have given him the nickname "Doctor Sleep."

One day, Dan is contacted by a young girl, named Abra (Kyleigh Curran), with a powerful Shine of her own. Abra has learned of a group led by a woman known as Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feed off of other people's Shine in order to live forever. Rose the Hat has immensely powerful Shine, and she uses it to track other individuals so that her group can feed. Rose the Hat is powerful, and she has sensed Abra's power, so Dan needs to find a way to protect the young girl from what is coming for her. Unfortunately, Rose the Hat is far more powerful than he is. In order to save Abra, Dan may have to take her to the most dangerous place in the world for people like them, the Overlook Hotel.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Dan Torrence (+10pts)

Doctor Sleep (-1pts)

Abra & Rose The Hat (+8pts)

The True Knot (-4pts)

Death & Horror (+8pts)

The Seat Belt (-1pts)


Pro: Dan Torrence (+10pts)

I really enjoyed Dan Torrence's story in Doctor Sleep. It was fascinating to see what the character went through after the events of The Shining, and it was fascinating to see what kind of adult he became after a childhood of trauma. It was also compelling to see how he used his gifts in his role as a hospice nurse, and it was compelling to see him take on the role of a mentor for Abra. This movie was filled with moments that will satisfy fans of the genre, but it was very much a character story about Dan finding a sense of purpose, and I really enjoyed that story.

This story was then made even better by having the talented Ewan McGregor in the role. The character was flawed, and he was afraid, but he was brave. He was a relatable character, and Ewan McGregor did a great job of playing him in a relatable and interesting way. The character had a lot of fear and emotional trauma in his past, but he was willing to risk his life and face his demons in order to save Abra. I really enjoyed the character's story, and the talented Ewan McGregor did a great job bringing it all to the screen.


Con: Doctor Sleep (-1pts)

This was really honestly a very minor issue for me. The movie definitely explained where the name Doctor Sleep came from, but I thought it got far too little focus. The nickname, and the reason for it, was really compelling. I found Dan's hospice role to be really interesting, and I would have liked to have seen some more time spent developing that. The whole story revolved around the concept of death, and that was never more fascinating than it was during the hospice scenes.

The hospice scenes were so compelling, because they showed how different characters handled their final moments, as well as how Dan's abilities helped them through it. Some characters were terrified, while others seemed to be ready for it. Despite the fact that the main character had telepathic abilities, these scenes felt so real because of how the characters reacted to death being on their doorstep. My minor issue was that, while I found these scenes to be really compelling and really captivating, they ended up getting very little focus in the grand scheme of this movie.


Pro: Abra & Rose The Hat (+8pts)

I liked the character of Abra, and I liked her dynamic with Dan. Dan took her under his wing, as someone else did for him when he was a boy, and he taught her what he knew about the Shining. Abra looked up to Dan, she saw him as somewhat of an Uncle, and she was very eager to use her abilities. Kyleigh Curran delivered a pretty strong performance. She played into the terror when she needed to, but for the most part, this character was just excited and having fun. The young actress did effectively delivered in the characters more serious and fearful moments, and she was just as effective at bringing the character's joy and eagerness to the screen as well.

Rose the Hat was a really entertaining villain to watch. Rebecca Ferguson played the character with a compelling subtly that ate up—pun intended—every scene she was in and she always left me wanting more. The character was an interesting villain, because everything she did came from her fear of death. Everyone understands that fear on some level, so it was easy to understand how the character ended up the way she did. I never forgive any of the horrific things she had done, but I understood why she did what she did. The character was powerful, the character was interesting, and Rebecca Ferguson delivered a compelling, enigmatic performance that elevated this entire movie.

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Con: The True Knot (-4pts)

In a movie that was just over two and a half hours long, I felt like the filmmakers focused on this group a bit too much for me to have learned so little about them. We knew that these characters feared death, we knew that they fed off of other people’s Shine, and we knew that the eldest member of their group was going to die soon if they did not find another person with Shine to feed on. All of that was fine, and interesting, but the filmmakers spent a bunch of time focusing on the group’s recruitment process, which was not necessary for this movie. All it did was use up screen time that could have been spent focusing on the more compelling aspect of the group. In the book, there was room for both of these things. However, I think the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers took out the new recruit storyline, and instead stuck to the group’s fear of death and the horrific things the group was willing to do in order to keep death from coming for them.


Pro: Death & Horror (+8pts)

I touched on this a couple times already, but I thought that this story took a really interesting look at death. The story did this in a few different ways, all of which centered around characters' fears and anxiety over death's uncertainty and inevitability. Characters like the members of the True Knot, and some patients within the hospice, feared death. Members of the True Knot had the opportunity to delay death, and they were willing to do whatever it took to do so, yet they still feared death's inevitability. Some patients in the hospice feared the uncertainty of death, but they could do absolutely nothing about it. Then there were other characters who did not fear death at all. I liked how this story was able to look at the concept of death from multiple different perspectives, all of which were compelling in their own way.

Somewhat related to the concept of death was the horror throughout this story. Characters died in this movie. From the things that tried to kill people, to the horrific ways that it happened, this movie was filled with horror moments. The movie had plenty of its own original horror moments, and plenty others that referenced The Shining, so there really was no shortage of horror here. Then with plenty of references to the last movie, plenty of nostalgic moments, and plenty of familiar ghosts, this movie definitely felt like a new chapter of an iconic horror story. The result of all of this was a strong horror movie that I think will scare horror newbies and satisfy those who love the genre like it did for me.


Con: The Seat Belt (-1pts)

This was a really minor issue, and I do not want to spoil the scene, so I am going to keep this short and vague. There was a seat belt related scene in this movie that did not make any sense. A character made a comment that seemed to imply another characters mindset, but that implied mindset did not make any sense for that character. There was no way that character would have acted the way they did for the reason that the other character implied. Was it careless? Sure, and did it make for a comical one-liner? Definitely, but it did not make any sense once I started thinking about it.

Grading Scale






























Grade: A+ (95pts)

There was the novel, written by Stephen King, and there was the movie, written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick based his movie on Stephen King's novel, but he made some significant changes to the story. Stephen King then wrote a sequel to his book version of The Shining. This movie was based on that book, but it was simultaneously a sequel to the movie The Shining. It is pretty confusing, and the filmmakers certainly had their hands full here.

I liked pretty much everything about Dan's individual story, and I liked the dynamic between Abra and Dan and the storyline between them. Rose the Hat was an antagonist whose motivations I understood, but whose actions were still evil, which made her an interesting villain. If you are going into this movie expecting another The Shining then this movie will disappoint you. This movie was very much its own thing, with its own vibe, and I thought it was really entertaining. It had compelling characters, a compelling story, nostalgic references from The Shining, and plenty of horror. I had a really great time watching this movie and highly recommend it if you are fan of Stanley Kubrick's movie, Stephen King's novels, or just well-written horror stories.


Movie Beasts (author) from MA on November 13, 2019:

Well I certainly enjoyed it a lot, and hope you do too!

Liza from USA on November 13, 2019:

My husband is excited to go seeing this movie. He definitely will drag me to go with him :) this weekend. So far, I like the trailer a lot and it has pretty good actors in the movie.

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