How do you make a sequel to something like “The Shining?” It’s a tall order for even the most seasoned horror director. However, after helming last years fantastic Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House,” Mike Flanagan seemed as up to the task as anybody.
Still haunted (literally) by his traumatic experience in the Overlook Hotel, psychic Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has grown up to be an alcoholic drifter. After absolving to be sober, Danny (now going by Dan) begins a quiet life in a New England town.
When Dan makes a telepathic connection with a young girl named Abra (Kyleigh Curran) and learns she’s being hunted by a group of vampire-like beings who feed off people with the “shine,” Dan is forced to reenter the world of the freaky and undead to save his friend.
In “Doctor Sleep,” Flanagan implements all of the things that made “Hill House” so great. A constant, unnerving atmosphere, horror elements fused with poignant human drama and talented actors embodying interesting roles.
But none of this stops the film from being aggressively mediocre. Answering the question of, “How do you make a sequel to the Shining?” with a flat, “You don’t.”
In all fairness, much of Stephen King’s book, “Doctor Sleep,” isn’t really trying to be a sequel to its predecessor. But, much like King’s novel, this causes the whole affair to feel unnecessary.
It’s not a bad film, and there’s plenty to like about it, but every good thing the film has going for it runs out of steam just before it can cross the finish line into being memorable.
The acting is all-around solid, especially by McGregor, but it’s nothing career defining. The cinematography and music are consistently chilling but fail to leave an impact. It’s full of enough creepy and weird moments to keep a horror fan satisfied, but never once does it come close to “scary.”
The highlight of the film is the final act, which (not a spoiler because it was in every trailer) sees Danny return to the Overlook Hotel, but even that loses its oomph by the time it’s done.
As far as Stephen King films go, you could do worse than “Doctor Sleep” (*cough cough* IT Chapter 2), but you could also do a lot better. It’s a film that’s clearly trying to be something great, and maybe a few years down the road people will rediscover it and assess it as something better.
But as of now, it’s a painfully average film that I won’t remember anything about in two weeks.