Over the weekend, my husband convinced me to watch the movie Dr. Sleep, which is currently available on Redbox. For those not aware, Dr. Sleep is the sequel to The Shining, both of which are based on books written by Stephen King, published in 1977 and 2013, respectively.
The fact alone that Stephen King was the author tells the viewer there will be some elements of horror in the story, though this particular one also has action and paranormal elements.
The movie opens with events immediately following the events in the first book/movie, where a traumatized Danny must deal with the experiences from the Overlook Hotel, as well as the death of his father. The denizens of the Overlook are still haunting him, until he learns to “lock” them in boxes in his mind. Unfortunately, he cannot so easily brush off the trauma, and a few minutes in, we switch to an adult Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, who is in his mid-forties, and a struggling alcoholic.
It takes a visit from the spirit of Dick Halloran, the character from the first movie who taught Danny about his “shining,” (aka telepathy) for Dan to make any headway in life. Dick’s appearances are far and few between, though, mainly serving as an expression of Dan’s conscience in times of turmoil. It is Dick’s prodding that leads Dan to assisting Abra, another young character who also “shines” when she is appears on the radar of the “True Knot,” a group of immortal beings that feed off the shine of young victims to survive.
Through a well-paced plot, we discover that Dan has largely suppressed his powers, but he cannot ignore the needs of the patients at the hospice where he works as an orderly, a practice that earns him the nickname Dr. Sleep. He also cannot ignore the daily communication with Abra, who contacts him via a blackboard painted on the wall of his apartment. Through his connection to her, he is aware when she first encounters the True Knot, and recognizes their similarity to the beings that haunted Overlook.
When they come for her, Dan has to help. Bringing his friend/sponsor along for the ride, they stage a plot to trap the True Knot group and prevent them from taking any more victims. Events go south, though, and in a desperate attempt to stop the leader of the True Knot, Rose the Hat, Dan and Abra make the journey back to Overlook, hoping to turn its denizens against Rose, who is now hunting them. The story culminates with Dan being visited by the ghostly remnant of his father, and repeating the sacrifice Jack Torrance made in the book version of The Shining, (the movie version ended differently.)
I don’t often go for horror movies, but this one had more supernatural and paranormal elements to it than true horror. Yes, the audience got to revisit some of the creepier characters from the original The Shining, but the focus of the story was more on Dan’s reactions and fate following those events. Overall, the movie was very good, with just enough of a creep factor and an interesting plot. This movie should appeal to fans of the original, though viewing of the first film is not required for understanding. I give it four out of five stars, and recommend it to anyone interested in the genres of horror, supernatural, and paranormal stories.