Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Stephen King (novel) and Mike Flanagan (screenplay)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, Roger Dale Floyd
Release Date: November 8, 2019
I left work early, then waited in line for an hour at Warner Bro’s. Studios in Burbank. There I stood giddy as a child anticipating the studio’s screening of Doctor Sleep, the movie based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name which was penned not only as a love letter to the Shiners of the world but also as a compassionate plea to a community of people afflicted by addiction.
Fans have waited a very long time to uncover the decades-old question, “after fleeing The Overlook Hotel on that fateful night, what in the world happened to young Danny Torrence and his meek mom, Wendy?” All these years later (39 to be exact) the answer has finally arrived.
The opening shot of Doctor Sleep, skillfully informs viewers that there was a reflective, wholehearted resoluteness in developing this movie. An aerial shot morphs into a meandering, downward spiral that ushers us into the first scene, and we quickly know we arrived for a cinematic tour de force. The cinematography is at its finest. The art direction couldn’t have been more fully realized.
I enjoyed Doctor Sleep not because it was a heart-stopping terrifying film, it was never meant to be that. I enjoyed Doctor Sleep because it is a one-of-a-kind, exceptional film with a solid vision brought to life by a brilliant director—Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House). If you thought The Haunting of Hill House achieves cinematic greatness then Doctor Sleep is Flanagan’s masterpiece.
Kudos not only to the crew. The ensemble of actors manages a feat as they tear through the fourth wall without addressing the audience. These are a flock of skilled people living out their craft and dreams to the fullest. As the entire cast pulls us into their world, I forgot to be seated in a movie theater, but I rather felt like I was in the movie.
Ewan McGregor shines as grown up Danny Torrance as does Alex Essoe in her portrayal of Danny’s mom, Wendy Torrance. Essoe’s interpretation could have gone terribly awry in her attempt to play-to the Wendy as originated flawlessly by Shelley Duval, but alas Alex Essoe is perfect. (If you enjoy her performance in Doctor Sleep, check her out as the lead in the horror movie called Starry Eyes, I highly recommend it.)
Also walking in a line of greatness with McGregor and Essoe is a remarkable cast, well deserving of being singled out including Rebecca Ferguson, Kiliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Zhan McClarnon and Emily Alan Andi.
All of your questions once left hanging on a cliff after The Shining ended approximately 4 decades ago have taken their last breath and will have answered you by the time you leave the theater.
You will finally know you have seen a director render a masterpiece before your eyes. You will know exactly what a movie that holds up so strongly to Stanley Kubrick’s (A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut) original vision looks like Mike Flanagan’s vision and yes, that we can all breath again.
As for Mike Flanagan? He will shine on as he passed the test. Anyone could have easily ruined this film. But Flanagan didn’t tank the project, rather he brought a continuum to life and let The Shining soar once again.