Cert 15 151mins Stars 4
Get your Halloween started with this blockbuster popcorn supernatural thriller from horror maestro, Stephen King, which slashes its hypnotic creepiness with crowd-pleasing gore and violence.
It’s a sequel to his 1977 novel The Shining, which was famously filmed by legendary Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick in 1980 and starred Jack Nicholson as an axe wielding psychopath.
Scots actor Ewan McGregor stars as Nicholson’s grown up son, who having recovered from the childhood trauma of his dad running amok at the haunted Overlook Hotel, is now living a quiet life as a small town medical orderly.
He uses his psychic ability called ‘the shining’ to assist people in dying peacefully, but befriends Kyliegh Curran’s teenager, who possesses prodigious powers of her own.
She’s pursued by an evil cult that feeds on the psychic essence of children to prolong their own lives, and are led by the demonically seductive Rebecca Ferguson.
Both women give compelling performances, while McGregor gives a wonderfully nuanced turn, meaning when he occasionally apes the voice and mannerisms of screen dad, Nicholson, it’s all the more effective and unsettling.
Mind you, McGregor’s called handsome so many times I wonder if he contributed to the dialogue.
The ghost of Kubrick appears in the impressive production design, especially in the now ruined Overlook Hotel with its geometrically patterned carpet, and illuminated bar.
However there’s a glossy multiplex style when it comes to powerful CGI action, with many illusions, magic tricks, nightmares and out-of-body experiences, as well as a terrifically exciting gun fight.
Similar to this years other lengthy King adaptation, IT: Chapter 2, he underscores the paranormal with real world darkness such addiction, child abuse and suicide, while drawing on elements of European folklore such as vampires.
Lacking Kubrick’s icy intellectual glare, Doctor Sleep is not a masterpiece, but it is thrilling and accomplished, which is far more than we could have hoped for or expected.