Doctor Sleep a 'suspenseful' sequel to horror classic The Shining

Nightmarish memories of The Shining come to life for Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) in the film adaptation of Stephen King's sequel Doctor Sleep

Ewan McGregor as Dan Torrance in Doctor Sleep
Damon Smith

A YOUNG boy pedalling his tricycle over wooden floors laid with hexagonal patterned carpet, twin girls dressed in matching sky blue party dresses tied with white bows at the waist, a tidal wave of blood cascading out of ornate elevator doors, an axe-wielding father chasing his terrified young son around a floodlit, snow-laden maze.

In 1980, director Stanley Kubrick slalomed down the claustrophobic halls of the Overlook Hotel as imagined in Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining, delivering a highly stylised depiction of isolation and escalating madness, which divided critics and elicited strong words of disapproval from the author.

Almost 40 years later, the disturbing image of Jack Nicholson grinning maniacally through a splintered bathroom door, snarling "Here's Johnny!", is firmly embedded in popular culture and Kubrick's film has been re-appraised as a defining moment of the horror canon.

Writer-director Mike Flanagan takes on the daunting task of revisiting the psychologically damaged survivors of the Overlook Hotel in a suspenseful sequel adapted from King's 2013 novel.

In a daring creative flourish which pays rich dividends, he mimics Kubrick's distinctive visual language to recreate key scenes from The Shining on meticulously rebuilt sets, embedding these flashbacks in a present-day story of sobriety and ghoulish fanaticism that conjures moments of gnawing, primal fear like its predecessor.

Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly), the Overlook Hotel's avuncular chef, teaches Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) to use his extrasensory powers to imprison angry spectres inside locked boxes in his mind.

Initially, Danny turns to the bottle – like his father Jack – to dull the pain, but he finds sobriety and friendship in the New Hampshire town of Frazier, supported by downstairs neighbour and AA sponsor Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis).

Nightmares of the past resurface when a teenager called Abra (Kyliegh Curran) makes contact.

She has unwittingly tapped into her "shine" to witness the ritualistic murder of a boy (Jacob Tremblay) at the hands of a cult called The True Knot.

Abra's abilities mark her as a prime target for the group's malevolent leader Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and chief lieutenant Crow Daddy (Zahn McClarnon).

Fearing for the girl's safety, Danny prepares to face the demented disciples of The True Knot, undaunted by the consequences because he has accepted: "We're all dying. The world is one big hospice with fresh air."

Doctor Sleep replicates Kubrick's style beautifully to tighten a knot of tension in our stomachs and sustain that discomfort for two-and-a-half hours.

McGregor plumbs dark recesses to movingly expose fissures in his recovering alcoholic's facade opposite Curran, who is mesmerising in her first film role.

Ferguson is chilling as a protective and vengeful matriarch, who believes in the morality of her group's murderous actions, setting up a barn-storming showdown in the familiar hotel from hell.

Rating: 7/10

DOCTOR SLEEP (15, 152 mins) Thriller/Horror. Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, Carl Lumbly, Jacob Tremblay. Director: Mike Flanagan.

:: Released October 31

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