Remakes, reprises and late-breaking sequels seldom captivate in contemporary cinema—especially when they’re trying to follow moviemaking greats. So, imagine our chagrin when, nearly 40 years later, the second chapter of The Shining turned out to be such a delightful little house for horror. 

Doctor Sleep kept us awake and not even a little annoyed, which is no small accomplishment given the letdown that came with this year’s other Stephen King title. 

This one was a crafty, well-paced and well-acted bit. Although the recreated scenes from weeks after the sour end of Jack Torrance at The Overlook Hotel include Danny’s childhood complete with a Shelley Duvall look-alike mom has us at first wondering if this would be a cheesy recap, we quickly join Dan (Ewan McGreggor) as he’s all grown up and still shining, sort of. What seems to be a disconnected set of stories soon weaves together into a frightening garment. 

Director Mike Flanagan makes a righteous effort to stand up to Stanley Kubrick with his own screenplay based on King’s book, reminding us that the scary parts get even more scary when they happen just out of sight. Fan service sinks right in with the continuity of the ghosts, the hallways and even the waterfalls of blood near the elevator from 1980.  While the first chapter was so strong with gaslighting that we can still smell the fumes, however, now women rule the day.

Rebecca Ferguson’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) villainess Rose the Hat runs a gang of soul-sucking child killers with a witchy finesse that’s creepy AF in nearly every scene, and newcomer Kyleigh Curran is believable and composed as Abra Stone, the new child wonder with psychic powers that make her a target. Abra and Danny take on a sort of crimefighting duo motif, and there’s a surprising depth of emotion in how the whole thing wraps up. Or does it? 

8
+Stands up to the Kubrick version as a sequel
-Shelley Duvall lookalike felt cheap

Doctor Sleep
Directed by Flanagan
With McGregor, Ferguson and Curran

Regal (both locations), Violet Crown, R, 152 min.