Film Review: Doctor Sleep (Dir. by Mike Flanagan)


 

If I asked you about Stephen King’s The Shining, would the book or the film come to mind?

DoctorSleepPosterWhen it comes to adapting Stephen King’s stories to film, it’s not an easy feat. King himself had a problem turning his own short story “Trucks” into something good when he directed Maximum Overdrive. For every great film like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, or It-Chapter One, we occasionally get a misstep like The Dark Tower or It-Chapter Two.  As King can sometimes get wordy in his books, I’ve felt the best adaptations were the ones where the director’s own vision came into play. Kubrick made a number or changes to King’s story, including the Grady twins and the hedge maze, which were never in the novel. The film is so widely recognized that most people recall events in the movie, rather than the book. That’s the effect Kubrick had. 

With Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan once again proves he’s a fantastic fit for King. The film moves at a great pace, with great performances by Rebecca Ferguson and newcomer Kyliegh Curran. In an age where audiences are typically quiet, the applause that occurred in scenes during last night’s preview screening were great to hear. The film manages to pay homage to Kubrick’s The Shining and King’s Novel of Doctor Sleep while still completely showcasing Flanagan’s vision. Of course, we already knew this from Flanagan taking on King’s own Gerald’s Game and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.  One might even argue that for this film, we may in time recall Flanagan’s tale more clearly than King’s.

Doctor Sleep takes place after the events of The Shining, with Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) suffering from the same demons that plagued his father, Jack. Although the keeps to himself, he drinks too much, gets into brawls, and is unable to hold down decent work. Dan is also haunted by the Overlook Hotel, and the power that drew the souls to him known as The Shining. The Shining (or just the Shine) is a coveted power in King’s lore. When a group of nomads that feed on the Shine (in a way that’s reminiscent of Mick Garris’ Sleepwalkers) discover a girl with the same ability, Dan is brought out of hiding. 

Fans of the original Kubrick film will see there’s a lot of love here. You’ll be able to count some of the references to The Shining, from objects in a room to different locales. For casting, Flanagan uses a mixture of old favorites and new faces. You’ll recognize some of them right from the start, such as Bruce Greenwood and Violet McGraw. Others, like Jacob Tremblay (The Predator) are welcome additions. Rather than relying on footage from the original Shining, Flanagan recreates certain elements with new cast members, which I felt worked extremely well here. I’m not sure how others will take it.

Ewan McGregor is good in the role of Dan Torrance, which feels more like his Mark Renton character from Trainspotting than anything else to me.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it works. The film truly belongs to both Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Fallout) and Kyliegh Curran. Ferguson’s Rose the Hat is a wicked villain, and she carries the role with a sinister, yet stylish flair. Ferguson has some of the best scenes in the film, particularly when paired with Zahn McClarnon (Midnight, Texas and Westworld), who plays Crow Daddy. Kyliegh Curran chews up the scenes she’s in, easily handling screen time with McGregor and Ferguson like a pro. Rounding out the cast are Cliff Curtis (Sunshine), Carl Lumbly (Mantis) and Emily Alyn Lind (The Babysitter). 

Doctor-Sleep-1

Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) can’t run from his past in Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep.

As for the fear factor, there is some terror in the hunt for Abra and the way that the group interact. Doctor Sleep doesn’t have much in the way of jump scares, but makes up for it with some tense moments. I didn’t feel as scared as I did with It-Chapter One, but I cared enough about the characters to worry about how the story was going to turn out. That might be a turn off for those expecting to watch the movie from between their fingers or run out of the theatre screaming. If you enjoyed Flanagan’s other works, such as Hush or Oculus, you’ll be fine.

Speaking of Hush, Doctor Sleep lacks a Kate Siegel cameo. Flanagan is Siegel’s partner in crime (and husband). Together, they’ve been in almost every film they’d done. I’ve gotten used to going “Oh, there’s Kate!”, while watching his films. It’s not an issue at all, but it would’ve been cool to see her.

The camera work for Doctor Sleep is very even, though there are a few special effects scenes that really stand out and picked up some applause (or gasps) once they were over. The one main drawback I had with the film was that it was a little difficult to keep up with all of the locations and time periods early on. Even though everything’s clearly labeled, it took me a moment to recognize just where and when things were occurring. Not a terrible thing, though.

Overall, Doctor Sleep is an easy film to recommend. It has some great performances, and manages to be a great follow up to The Shining, while showing a lot of love for the source material.

Doctor Sleep hits cinemas on Friday, November 8th, and I’ll make a return visit.

 

 

 

6 Trailers For Halloween


Happy Halloween!

Well, the big day is finally here and that means that it’s time for a special Halloween edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse Trailers!  Below you’ll find the trailers for some of my favorite horror films!  Let’s take a look!

  1. Suspiria (1977)

That I picked this trailer to start off this special edition should come as a surprise to no one.  While I don’t think the trailer really does the film justice, Suspiria is still one of my favorite movies of all time.  Don’t talk to me about the remake and we’ll get along just fine.

2. Zombi 2 (1979)

Also known as Zombie Flesh Eaters!  This is the Lucio Fulci-directed classic that launched the Italian zombie boom!

3. The Beyond (1981)

And, as long as we’re talking about Fulci, there’s no way that I could possibly leave The Beyond‘s trailer out of this post.

4. Martin (1978)

Some people, undoubtedly, will say, “Martin but no Night of the Living Dead?”  Well, we’ll be featuring Night of the Living Dead later today.  Martin is one of George Romero’s best films and it’s still criminally unknown.  Check out the trailer but definitely be sure to track down the film as well.

5. Halloween (1978)

Naturally.

6. The Shining (1980)

Stephen King might not like it but Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining remains one of the best horror films ever made.  It’s one of the few films that continues to scare me after multiple viewings.  (It’s those two little girls in the hallway.  They freak me out every time!)

Happy Halloween!

4 Shots From 4 Films: City of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, Night of the Hunted, The Shining


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1980 Films

City of the Living Dead (1980, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Friday the 13th (1980, dir by Sean S. Cunningham)

Night of the Hunted (1980, dir by Jean Rollin)

The Shining (1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick)

Horror Scenes That I Love: Jack Meets Lloyd in The Shining


The scene below is, of course, from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece, The Shining.

In this scene, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) stumbles into the Overlook Hotel’s ballroom, still fuming over having been accused of abusing his son.  A recovering alcoholic, Jack sits at the bar and thinks about how he would give up his soul for just one one drink.  And, on cue, Lloyd (Joe Turkel) appears.

As I was watching this scene, it occurred to me that, way back in 1980, there probably was some guy named Lloyd who saw this movie in a theater and was probably totally shocked when Jack suddenly stared straight at him and said, “Hey, Lloyd.”

The brilliance of this scene is that we never actually see Lloyd materialize.  We see him only after Jack has seen him.  So, yes, Lloyd could be a ghost.  But he could also just be a figment of Jack’s imagination.  Jack very well could just be suffering from cabin fever.  Of course, by the end of the movie, we learn the truth.

Everyone always talks about Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jack.  Some people love it and some people hate it.  (I’m in the first camp.)  However, let’s take a minute to appreciate just how totally creepy Joe Turkel is in this scene.  Turkel was a veteran character actor and had appeared in two previous Kubrick films, The Killing and Paths of Glory.  Two years after appearing in The Shining, Turkel played what may be his best-known role, Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner.

From Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, here’s Jack Nicholson and Joe Turkel:

Here’s The Final Trailer For Doctor Sleep


I’m a little bit late in posting this but I’m happy to correct that oversight now.

Doctor Sleep is a film that I’m very much looking forward to seeing.  Doctor Sleep is a sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining and it’ll be interesting to see which version of The Shining that director Mike Flanagan will decide to honor with this film, King’s original novel or Stanley Kubrick’s far superior film version.  Kubrick’s film is one of the best horror movies ever made but Stephen King has always been very vocal in his dislike for it.

(Personally, I think a lot of King’s distaste for the film comes down to jealousy over the way that Kubrick improved on King’s original story.  Whereas The Shining is a good book that sometimes gets bogged down with King’s usual shtick, Kubrick’s film is a pop horror masterpiece.)

Judging from the just-released final trailer for Doctor Sleep, it looks like director Mike Flanagan will be building on Kubrick’s vision as opposed to King’s.  As you can probably already guess, that’s fine by me.  Flanagan is one of the best horror directors working right now and Ewan McGregor would appear to be perfectly cast in the role of grown-up Danny Torrance.

Doctor Sleep will be playing in theaters on November 8th.  (That’s the day before my birthday so I have a feeling I know what my free movie at the Alamo Drafthouse is going to be.)  Here’s the final trailer!

6 Trailers For 6 Films That Still Scare Lisa


I love horror movies but, unfortunately, many of them tend to get a bit less scary upon repeat viewings.  Once you already know where the vampire is going to be hiding or who the werewolf is going to attack next, it becomes a bit more difficult to fall under in the film’s chilling spell.

So, on this Halloween, I’m going to do a very special edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers.  Here are six trailers for six films that still scare me, even after repeat viewings:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

To be honest, all of the Body Snatcher films scare me, even the really bad ones.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers deals not only with the horror of conformity but also the horror of knowing what’s going on but being helpless to stop it.

The Exorcist (1973)

Maybe it’s because of my Catholic background but, despite the fact that it’s been endlessly imitated, this film scares me every time that I see it.  I think a lot of it has to do with the documentary approach that William Friedkin takes to the material.

Shock (1977)

Mario Bava’s final film gets me every time.  Even though I now know how many of the big scares were actually pulled off, this movie still makes me jump.  In this film, Daria Nicolodi gives the best performance of her legendary career.

The Shining (1980)

Agck!  Those little girls!  That elevator full of blood!  The way Wendy kept interrupting Jack while he was trying to write!

Sinister (2012)

Sinister gave me nightmares the first time that I saw it and it still does.  That ending.  AGCK!

The Conjuring (2013)

This is definitely one of the best haunted house films to come out over the past ten years.  This film is scary because you actually care about the family in the house.  They’re not just disposable victims.  Also holding up well is The Conjuring 2.

Happy Halloween!

“Happy Halloween!”

Horror Scenes That I Love: Jack Torrance Explains The Donner Party


This scene, of course, is from 1980’s The Shining.

Technically, this is  before Jack Torrance met the ghosts and started to lose his mind but, in this scene, you can tell that Jack’s already getting a little bit tired of his family.  Jack Nicholson’s delivery of, “See?  It’s okay.  He heard it on the television,” gets me every time.