Simple Review: Here’s Danny!
Have you ever heard the phrase, ” Everything old is new again”? Well, that seems to be the overriding strategy of our beloved Hollywood geniuses as of late. Every time you head to your local movie playing establishment you inevitably see a preview or poster of some beloved childhood memory being rebooted or having some weird sequel that ignores half of a film franchise. One of the few films that I thought would ever be revisited was The Shinning, a film that scared the young Movie Psycho half to death, and yet a sequel novel was conjured up by everyone’s favorite horror novelist Stephen King so naturally, a film has soon followed. Since all work and no play makes The Movie Psycho something, something let’s grab our trusty ax and break down this review of the sequel no one knew they needed, Doctor Sleep.
For my more reliable readers, you are well aware that I am the most honest movie reviewer in all of the blogging land, and as such I must confess I have been procrastinating something awful on this review. No, not because this is a bad film, in fact, I quite enjoyed it, rather because there isn’t much to either rave about or tear apart. Doctor Sleep is simply a good movie that, fortunately, doesn’t do any major damage to the masterpiece it is continuing. As such I have struggled to prepare a review that will inform AND entertain you my beauties, but for you, I have downed a little liquid encouragement and locked myself in a big old creepy hotel to knock out this review, trying to keep my cool while that kid keeps riding his damn big wheel around and around!
Doctor Sleep follows a now grown-up Danny Torrance, the young survivor of that winter fright fest in The Overlook Hotel all those years ago, as he struggles to fight his inner demons as well as the demons that are trying to finish the job Danny’s dad started in the past. As Danny tries to live a quiet, almost hermit-like life, he is found by a young person in need of mentoring in the ways of the powerful force they both share while they fight those who use this power for evil. Hmmm, this feels like a character that Ewan McGregor has some experience with but I just can’t figure which character that would be. As Danny and his young apprentice, Abra, try to stay one step ahead of the nefarious cult chasing them, the demons of The Overlook loom in the background like some sort of a phantom menace. Eventually, all sides collide in an epic showdown to determine if good will triumph over evil.
Doctor Sleep is directed by Mike Flannigan and he has crafted a solid film that doesn’t rush into the scares instead it allows characters to develop and have actual arcs!! I know, crazy right!?!?! We see Danny dealing with alcoholism, as well as putting the past behind him, and Ewan McGregor does a fine job bringing this adult Danny to life and his story is the backbone of the movie. We are introduced to two new characters that are on the opposite sides of the spectrum, Abra Stone, played by Kyliegh Curran, and Rose the hat, played by Rebecca Ferguson. Abra is the innocent that Rose the Hat needs to help her band of fellow evildoers survive, and Kyliegh brings the right amount of childhood innocence and a touch of arrogance to the role and as the movie progresses we see her character “growing up” to realize that the world is a dangerous place. Rebecca Ferguson is simply great as Rose the Hat. She is equal parts charming, cunning and ruthless and she is the perfect foil for Danny and Abra.
I have to tip my cap to Director Mike Flannigan as it would have been easy to either rehash the original movie or rush to the scenes inside The Overlook Hotel. Instead, he takes his time to flesh out the main character as well as setting up things that are all paid off at some point in the film. Sorry to be a bit vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything from the film in case you have not seen it, and judging by the box office numbers, you probably haven’t. By the end, you understand why the film and the characters have reached the point they have without hitting you over the head with obvious things or racing to the end showdown so fast you have no clue as to why we got there. There is a nice atmosphere in the film with the aforementioned ghosts from The Overlook always lurking about but never dominating the movie until the right time. Flannigan does a nice job mixing elements from The Shinning into this sequel without it becoming too distracting. I also liked that he cast other actors in the more famous roles from the original than using some type of CGI trickery as that would have pulled me immediately out of the movie. Overall, this is a well-directed film that never felt as long as its nearly three-hour runtime is.
While Doctor Sleep does quite a bit right, it is not without its faults. Despite the attention paid to the leading characters, the background characters are not developed enough. Danny has a best friend, Billy, played by the always reliable Cliff Curtis, that we are told time and again is Danny’s best friend but I would have rather had scenes of the two becoming best friends instead of just being told they are. Rose the Hat’s followers are not as developed as they could have been either. I simply know nothing about the characters as we go along which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see why they are so loyal to Rose and to see if there is any humanity left in them. Instead, they are rather disposable characters that, while ferocious and scary at times, never feel that threatening. I will warn you if you are looking for a true horror movie this is not it. There are some scares and one rather brutal scene that made even me, demented as I am, cringe, but on the whole, this is a story more about recovery and hope than it is about scares.
We have reached the end of our chase through the frozen maze that is this review and I just need to sit down for a moment here in the cold and collect my thoughts, but before I do allow me to wrap up this rambling nonsense. As I stated earlier, I enjoyed Doctor Sleep and would very much recommend seeing it in the theaters not only for an entertaining movie but to show Hollywood that it is ok to make a scary movie that isn’t all jump scares and loud noises. While it is not some epic masterpiece, it is a solid movie that has more going for it than cheap nostalgia for a quick cash grab.
I hope you enjoyed this rather simple and silly review and if you did check out some older ones as I try to get my next review done soon!
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho