Mike Flanagan has been a name to watch since he appeared on the scene, and he’s become a huge hero to genre fans for his concentration on character and story as much as scares when it comes to horror films.
And with Warner Brothers release of Doctor Sleep (available on blu and DVD today), he proves that he can still do no wrong. With the subject material that is no easy task. Doctor Sleep is a long-awaited sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining, continuing the story of his character, Dan Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor).
That is where the problem lies, one that Flangan easily surmounts. There are countless differences between King’s original novel and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, both of which are iconic and have their fans. The novel of Doctor Sleep continues the literary story of The Shining. Flanagan had to find a way to make his film a marriage between the novel, and Kubrick’s film, and in my opinion, works brilliantly, balancing the visual style created by Kubrick in The Shining, especially when it comes to recreating iconic shots, scenes, and of course, the monstrous Overlook Hotel.
In fact, the Warner Brothers release has doubled down on Flanagan, and included a Director’s Cut of the film. Running a half hour longer, making the film three hours in total, this version layers out moments, and characters even deeper than the film already had, and works fantastically.
McGregor is on point as Dan, who finds himself drawn back into horror when he is contacted by a young girl, Abra (Kyliegh Curran), who shares his gift of ‘shining.’ It seems there is a vampiric group, known as the True Knot, are feeding off the psychic energy of gifted children, and Abra is extremely gifted.
Dan and Abra are thrown together to confront the leader of the Knot, Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson in a fantastic performance). A confrontation that will take them right back to the grounds of Dan’s worst personal trauma, the Overlook Hotel.
It’s smart, spooky, well-thought out, and under Flanagan’s knowledgeable, creative hand soars. This ended up being one of my favourite films of 2019, and cemented my love of Flanagan’s work – and speaking of, watch for some familiar faces, as he has some stock actors he likes to cast, and if you saw his exceptional adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, then you may recognise a few faces.
And what would a blu-ray release be without some extras? They include a too short glimpse at the bridging of the Shining to Doctor Sleep that has a little chat with director Mike Flanagan and author Stephen King (honestly I could have sat through a feature length doc on the subject). There is also a look at the making of the film, which happily, runs a little longer, which settles into the cast, as well as gives us more fun interactions, and tidbits from King and Flanagan.
We also get a look at how the iconic location of The Overlook Hotel was brought back to life, and the continuation of the visual look and performances of Kubrick’s film.
Doctor Sleep a must for horror fans, is out on blu-ray and DVD today from Warner Brothers.