Nearly…such a frustrating thing, and that is what this film is - frustrating.
It’s a fact that lots of people who say they like Stephen King have not read that many of his books, based on there being so much filler that the majority don’t mention. As with the remake of IT, the 2nd part followed the recent fashion for overlong films, and with horror that doesn’t work. Kubrick’s classic was long, but did something that not many scare films can do; that is consistently keep up the tension and atmosphere.
Making a film of King’s books is not inherently a problem; Mike Flanagan (the director of Doctor Sleep) made an excellent film from Gerald’s game, and others have done so too. The issue here is that the filmmaker has tried to adapt a not so great King book, and one that simply doesn’t translate to the screen. Not if your attempt is conflicted. The studios and marketing people wanted to make a sequel to The Shining film, King wanted a straight translation of his book, and Flanagan has struggled to give the audience everything they want while keeping the author happy. Falling between stools can be the worst of all worlds.
The film needed its guts ripped out, and a running time of about an hour less. Like many King books, it rambles midway and has too much detail and secondary characters for its own good. Concentrating on Danny Torrance, the final location, and maintaining the dread would have strengthened it a hell of a lot. Instead of creepy, this comes across as a version of the 80s vampire film Near Dark, with the twist on the gypsy lifestyle mythology - being people having the ability to ‘shine’; as in read other people’s thoughts. As it is, this is not a chilling film for the most part, as so much time is spent on drama when we need to be running headlong to the Overlook hotel. Those scenes are incredibly well done and almost make up for the deficiencies, making you think what a great film this could have been if not for all the faffing about.
What it does well is scuppered, however, as somebody should have pointed out that recreating classic scenes from the original is pointless, when it was already done in last year’s Ready Player One, and lifting the soundtrack wholesale and plastering it all over this film is off-putting. The original music is iconic and one of the best known scores of all time. Doctor Sleep is not like the original film in the slightest, apart from the opening and the finale, so the music seems completely out of place at times.
Worth a poke, but don’t expect The Shining 2. Just a well-made film, with occasional moments of brilliance.
Doctor Sleep is showing now at a cinema near you