Weaving its way into the lore of the 1980s film ‘The Shining‘, ‘Doctor Sleep’ continues the initial story with a most unforeseen yet not entirely unexpected link to the past. Led by the acting talents of Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, this psychological thriller penned by author Stephen King, is one of those rare sequels that measures up to the original even after 30 years of the first film’s release.
Just a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes in length, the movie doesn’t skip a beat in terms of keeping the audience at the edge of their seats. As with some of Stephen King’s best works, when the story revolves around children, the emotional hook sinks in deep and the horror is magnified manifold.
There is a teeming anticipation at the insides of your skin when the story progresses to some horrific moments. To a certain degree, ‘Doctor Sleep’ is reminiscent of ‘It: Chapter Two’, which was released earlier this year. The difference here is the use of children as protagonists and victims. Either way, the meshing of childhood experiences creates the right amount of attachment to keep the audience invested in the film.
However, there is no need to watch ‘The Shining’ to fully appreciate ‘Doctor Sleep’. The film provides adequate background at the beginning that allows the audience enough catch up time to understand the links to the first film. However, if you have watched ‘The Shining’, you will be pleased to know that the connections are not forced and are properly intertwined with the original story. In fact, I’d recommend that you watch ‘The Shining’ for a better appreciation of ‘Doctor Sleep’. Either way, ‘Doctor Sleep’ stands well on its own as a great interpretation of Stephen King’s story.
What would you do if you had the power to live forever? That is one question that is at the center of this film’s soul. With this, there are several ethical conundrums presented, and the opposing sides to the question answer accordingly. The moral dilemmas present themselves in a way that tries to justify the actions of some at the expense of others. Thus, you might be inclined to empathize with the antagonists of the film. This is quickly struck down with great gusto with the story’s conclusion. The sacrifice of another is never justified, and those who do so for the sake of their own survival are quickly put in their place. As such, ‘Doctor Sleep’ highlights that death is part of life, and denying that would mean denying your own humanity.
Perhaps the greatest message of the film is that no one should deny what makes them special and hide it because it might cause oppression and disdain on the part of others. ‘Doctor Sleep’ encourages its protagonists to share their gifts, most especially to prevent evil from arising. By showing this, the film intrinsically encourages the audience to do so, as well. For it is the suppression of what makes an individual special that allows for evil to proliferate. And isn’t it evil in the first place to alienate those who are special on the basis that they have a measured advantage over others?
Rather than ostracize, ‘Doctor Sleep’ encourages a society where those who are special can improve on society as a whole when, and if, they are allowed the opportunity. And when the opportunity is given, the film suggests that it will always lead to a very favorable result for all.
From the mind of Stephen King comes ‘Doctor Sleep’, a psychology horror film worth thinking about much after you have seen the film. ‘Doctor Sleep’ is now showing in cinemas.