Doctor Sleep

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Doctor Sleep Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Well-made "Shining" sequel has intense violence toward kids.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 151 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 32 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In a pretty simple case of good versus evil, characters risk their lives to face difficult odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Danny starts out as an alcoholic who fights with people, sleeps with random partners, wakes up in strange places, etc. But because Billy goes out of his way to help, Danny gets a job helping others, joins AA, and -- eventually -- risks his life to help little Abra. He even sacrifices himself to save her.


Children in peril, screaming in panic/pain, children killed. Death. Characters fight in a bar; someone's face is punched with a pool ball. Bloody wounds/blood stains. Skin peeled off of hand. Guns and shooting; villains dying, turning to dust. Character shoots himself in head. Fighting with axe. Bruised eye. Sexual predator character (older, married man tries to pick up teen girl). Scary music/scary stuff. Jump scare. Fall from high place. Hypodermic needle. Graphic story about deer hunting.


Fully naked elderly female ghost (more scary than sexy). A man wakes up naked next to a naked woman; his bare bottom is shown, and she's seen from the side. Kissing.


A few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "ass," and "damn." Also "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "hope to God."


Mention of Netflix. Coca-Cola vending machine shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is an alcoholic. He drinks shots in a bar, wakes up not knowing where he is, vomits. He later attends AA meetings, quits drinking. He also smokes cigarettes. Character snorts cocaine.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybettsannie November 10, 2019

Almost Walked Out After BRUTAL Child Murder Scene!

As a fan of horror movies, it takes a lot for me to say a movie crosses the line, and I’ve never considered walking out of a movie due to a violent scene...unti... Continue reading
Adult Written byNicePokeballsM8 September 14, 2020

For everyone crying about Baseball Boy

I don’t understand why everyone feels the need to bash Doctor Sleep because of the murder of Baseball Boy....was it graphic? Yea it was, was it disturbing? Yea... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bywww.cxnnxr October 25, 2020

This movie was AMAZING

Typically horror movie sequels are not the best in my opinion, however, this movie was AMAZING. I can't remember one time throughout the entire 2 hours and... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 8, 2020

“Doctor sleep” a horror grandslam!

Sequels for horror movies sometimes suck. But this sequel is a horror movie like no other! I’m not going to spoil anything because I really want you to watch it... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Doctor Sleep's violence. How did it make you feel? Do the scenes involving children cross a line? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • 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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

Themes & Topics

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