Doctor Sleep was alright. 3/5
It was way too long. Technically it is a bad film.
By technically bad, what do I mean?
Let me explain it to you.
This post will probably contain spoilers.
Doctor Sleep: Slept in
The main story doesn’t kick in until the 40-minute mark. How do you know when the plot is kicking in? Well, you’ll recognise it with “Call to adventure” followed by a “refusal of the call”.
In Doctor Sleep, Abra (young girl psychic) shows up and tells Danny how they’re going to catch the smoke vampires. I forget what they’re called, but they’re smoke vampires. Danny says, no, it’s crazy. There you go, call to adventure, refusal of the call. In most films, this should be in and around the 20-30 minute mark. Anytime after and your audience is twiddling their thumbs or looking at their phones. This scene happens after 30 minutes. It may seem minor but you feel it when you watch.
Another important aspect is the hero has to choose to go on the adventure. They have to choose adventure.
Neo chooses the red pill, Luke returns to Obi-Wan and says he wants to go to Alderan. Even Alex Murphy signed a waiver giving up his body after death.
Doctor Sleep doesn’t get this right either. Mr Halloran shows up and tells Danny he has to look after the girl. It’s not his choice. Instead, what I thought one of the smoke vampires was shapeshifting as Mr Halloran. Danny realises made him he needed to help the girl.
There is good
Again. I know it may not seem like it but I did enjoy the film. I’m going to list what I liked.
- Rebecca Ferguson
- The psychic showdowns
- The long crossfades
- The people doubling as Shelly Duvall, Scatman Crothers and Jack Nicholson
- Constant heartbeat on the soundtrack
- The nastiness of some scenes
Doctor Sleep’s biggest problem is the connection to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The 1980s film is more a hindrance than Stephen King’s original The Shining.
In fact, except for the start and the end, the film did its own thing for the most part. For what it was, a spooky road trip movie, it was grand. Once the characters get to the Overlook, it becomes a series of callbacks. I found them unnecessary.
In fact, the problem something like a sequel like this has is that it has to be definite in its answers. At times it feels like a sequel to the King approved Shining mini-series in the style of Kubrick. There is a disconnect. In Kubrick’s Shining the supernatural was ambiguous. Doctor Sleep states firmly. “It was ghosts”.
Having to explore the aftermath of The Shining weighed the film down. The first section of the film deals with a young Danny learning to control his Shine. I understand that it was probably necessary, its in the book, whatever. As far as I’m concerned, we could have jumped ahead to older Danny working in the hospice.
You have Obi-Wan, why not have him hiding under an alias only for Abra to know his true identity.
The scenes of the smoke vampires recruiting could have been cut. Also having the group be so large, especially when only some get characterised. The bad guys could have been four or five people, and you still would have got the point.
There’s a shootout in a forest at one point, and it feels like a different film. It is easily the worst scene.
An observation that doesn’t fit anywhere else
Joker and Doctor Sleep are both films that have brutal violence. One thing you might notice, in both men are subject to gruesome violence, when it comes to women’s turn, we either cut to a reaction or look away. Good to see even extreme cinema has a sense of decorum.
The film was fine. I enjoyed it, but I will probably never watch it again, kind of like Midsommar. You might enjoy it, there are some compelling scenes. It’s nasty in places too.
Mike Flannigan is building a substantial body of work as a director of psychological thrillers. It feels like he should hand the editing off to someone else. Lighten the load.
Have you seen Doctor Sleep, what did you think?
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