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Belated Sequels: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Stephen King The Shining and Doctor Sleep

This week on Belated Sequels we’re looking at a movie that was way better than I was expecting it to be!

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Previous Instalment: The Shining (1980)

Time since last instalment: 39 years.

For anyone who may not know, both films are adaptations of Stephen King’s novels of the same names published in 1977 and 2013 respectively.

If I’m honest, when I saw the trailer to Doctor Sleep I wasn’t aware that Stephen King had even written a sequel to The Shining. Because of this I wrongly assumed that it was written for the screen by someone else and I expected not to enjoy it.

I’m a big fan of The Shining and felt a bit protective over it, but seeing that the sequel starred Ewan McGregor as a grown up Danny Torrance gave me a bit of faith that it might be ok. I was also curious where they’d take the story after the events that took place all those years ago at the Overlook Hotel.

I have to say, I loved it!

It has a totally different feel and style to The Shining, but that’s to be expected when you consider how many years have passed - not to mention the fact that The Shining was directed by a director who’s regarded as “one of the greatest filmmakers in cinematic history”, Stanley Kubrick.

As much as it has it’s own style though, I love that they used some of the same music (most notably that ominous theme) from The Shining. It really links the two films together and gets you excited about what’s to come right from the Warner Bros logo just before the opening credits.

Ewan McGregor Doctor Sleep movie

I appreciate we’re talking about a film adaptation of a book here, so I guess I’m praising Stephen King more than I am the filmmakers themselves, but what I love about this film (or the story at least) is that it completely reinvents itself.

So many sequels these days play too heavily on the previous film in an attempt to win the audience’s favour. This movie, as much as it references The Shining is very much its own story, and the references are either subtle or are there to serve a major purpose.

As expected Ewan McGregor is great in the role, as is Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone, but it’s actually Rebecca Ferguson who steals the show (or shines....see what I did there?) in my opinion. She’s so sinister and scary as "Rose the Hat" but in a weird way you kind of get where she’s coming from.

Carl Lumbly (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) as Dick Hallorann, (previously portrayed by the late Scatman Crothers) also does a superb job of reviving that character.

For a 15 certificated movie, Doctor Sleep has a couple of shocking moments that, as nasty as they are, feel refreshing compared to so many movies these days that are seemingly afraid to take risks.


The finale to this movie is a full on nostalgia trip if you’re a fan of the original film!

An older Danny Torrance goes back to the Overlook Hotel (for reasons I won’t go into) and the set recreations are brilliant! Seeing him walk around the hotel which has now seen better days makes you want to re-watch the first film as soon as this one has finished!

There’s a particularly special moment when he goes back to the room he stayed in in the original movie and peers through the hole in the bathroom door that his dad hacked out with an axe in the infamous “here’s Johnny” scene.

Ewan McGregor Doctor Sleep movie

The bar scene is another great scene and worth the two and a half hours it takes to get there, with a young Jack Nicholson look-alike, played by an unrecognisable Henry Thomas (Elliot from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) serving as the bartender.

That’s actually another thing I really like about this movie. Rather than using CGI to bring the younger actors’ characters back, they cleverly cast actors who closely resemble them. It really works, and although they’re not identical, the film’s so good that you can suspend disbelief long enough to accept it.

This to me is a sequel that really lives up to the original. Okay so nothing was gonna come close to The Shining, it’s a horror masterpiece after all, but this movie does it proud and is the kind of belated sequel that they should all aspire to be.

In my opinion this one was totally worth the wait and if you haven’t seen it and are a fan of The Shining, you should definitely give it a watch.

If you have seen it, let me know what you think in the comments. 👇

“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.”


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