A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Doctor Sleep is a horror movie adapted from a Stephen King novel; it's the official sequel to The Shining. Violence is quite intense: Children are shown in peril, screaming, and dying, and there are guns and shooting, fighting and punching, an ax fight, bloody wounds, gore, a sexual predator, and more. The naked ghost of an elderly woman is seen, a man wakes up naked in bed with a woman (his buttocks are shown, and she's shown from the side), and characters kiss. Language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t, "bitch," and more. The main character (Ewan McGregor) is an alcoholic who drinks, passes out, wakes up in unfamiliar places, and vomits. He eventually goes to AA meetings and quits. He also smokes cigarettes, and another character snorts cocaine. Directed by Mike Flanagan, the film can't compare to Stanley Kubrick's original, but, despite the upsetting violence toward kids, it's a well-made, involving sequel for mature viewers.
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What's the story?
In DOCTOR SLEEP, Danny Torrance and his mother escape the Overlook Hotel after the events of The Shining and try to move on with their lives. But Danny is still haunted by the spirits from that place. So Dick Hallorann appears and teaches Danny how to lock the spirits away. Years later, Danny (Ewan McGregor) has become an alcoholic and a drifter. He arrives in a small town, where Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis) helps get him a job as an orderly in a hospital and takes him to AA meetings. Soon Danny is contacted by young Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), who "shines" in a very strong way. Unfortunately, Abra has also attracted the attention of Rose (Rebecca Ferguson), an evil being who travels with a pack of ageless followers and eats the essence of those who "shine." Can Danny help Abra before it's too late?
Is it any good?
While it could never compare to Stanley Kubrick's original, this sequel is a leisurely, likable mix of character development and effective scares, though it's marred by intense violence toward kids. Based on Stephen King's novel and written and directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep tackles its most difficult obstacle -- attaching itself to The Shining -- admirably. Flanagan, whose previous King adaptation Gerald's Game was also very strong, uses a few quick clips from Kubrick's film but mostly re-films it, using lookalike actors. This points the focus toward the new story, which McGregor carries nicely with a strongly sympathetic performance. Scenes of Danny at work, sitting with patients who are about to die (and earning his nickname "Doctor Sleep") are wonderfully tender.
Additionally, young Curran displays great strength and screen presence, and she and McGregor make a fine pair. Ferguson's villain is a little one-dimensional, but she plays the role with an infectious joy and sensuality. Already a horror expert, Flanagan delivers a few truly spooky moments, sometimes inspired by the original but frequently his own. Even the movie's long runtime tends to add depth rather than make it feel bloated. But while Doctor Sleep is mostly worth seeing, it crosses a line when it depicts the villains' ruthless violence toward kids; the screaming of skilled young actor Jacob Tremblay will cause most viewers' blood to run cold.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the movie depict drinking? What consequences does Danny face for drinking? How does he deal with it?
How does Doctor Sleep compare to the movie The Shining? How does it compare to the novel?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?
- In theaters: November 8, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 4, 2020
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
- Director: Mike Flanagan
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 151 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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