Doctor Sleep = Shining Chills

drs1All being well I’ll post a review tomorrow, but having just seen Doctor Sleep, I just wanted to post my initial feelings: the spookiest thing about this film is how much it reminded me of BR2049. There were moments in Doctor Sleep -music cues, aerial shots details of which shall remain spoiler-free – that frankly gave me chills, and had me thinking about similar sentiments regards BR2049.

Denis Villeneuve’s film was that most miraculous thing, after so many decades, of being a perfect sequel to a film that never needed one. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was as different to its source novel as was Blade Runner from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, both films were met by fairly negative (scathing at times) critical response and subject to critical reappraisal over the years after, and both were self-contained and not in the slightest bit needed a sequel. Indeed nobody, I’m sure, ever really expected one for either film.

Yet here we are, both films have gotten really fine, respectful and sincere sequels that expand upon the original work while each treading a new path. Decades after. Its almost beyond bizarre. In a similar way to how BR2049 returned to the original source novel as well as the 1982 film’s rather distant adaptation of it, so does Doctor Sleep return to the original source novel of The Shining as well as the Kubrick film – in some ways both films turn the tone and themes back to the source in ways that enrich original and sequel. Of course Doctor Sleep is itself based upon Stephen Kings own sequel novel to his The Shining book, and I haven’t read either King book in all honesty, but it seems clear to me that this film is not simply that book, its clearly a sequel to both the widely different King book and Kubrick film, as well as the King Doctor Sleep book, and manages a brilliant balancing act.

It was just the strangest thing; watching BR2049 I had this sensation of the hair on the back of my neck standing on end, a kind of magical meta-reality going on, returning to that Blade Runner world after so many decades, and it feeling so authentic. I had that exact same feeling with Doctor Sleep, particularly two-thirds in when there are suddenly a few shots which… well, lets stay spoiler-free awhile yet. But wow. What a feeling. Its when pop-culture becomes something rather more than just pop-culture, when years in the real world are mirrored by years in the artificial film world, and there’s this weird clarity, almost, a feeling of meta-reality.

Anyway, I liked it.

6 thoughts on “Doctor Sleep = Shining Chills

    1. Yes, thanks- well, relatively speaking anyway. Claire’s mom had to have three weeks of radiotherapy sessions following a cancer op and the final week last week took its toll what with the travelling to/from Birmingham and the cumulative effect of the treatment. That and this Covid-19 situation has just taken all my attention this past week (as I work in the Rail Freight industry that’s becoming a nightmare, never mind the issues with it at home). The complication that both Claire’s mom is now high-risk (as is my Dad) has just made things trickier as they have to self-isolate and we are the only way Claire’s mom can get shopping supplies etc or get to doctors/hospital appointments. What it is to live in interesting times.

      Some new kind of normal will settle in I’m sure, and as long as family members stay healthy things should be manageable. I’m stuck in over the weekend so might even manage to get some blogging done. Or maybe watch something.

      Anyway, hope you and yours are safe and healthy and we can all get to the other side of this unscathed. Who knew Blade Runner’s LA2019 would turn out so Utopian compared to the Dystopia we’d end up living in?

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        That’s rough, sorry it’s been such a tough time. Not too bad here so far, though worried about older relatives (at the other end of the country) who seem determined not to be sensible.

        Do post about Dr Sleep if you have further thoughts. I watched it that week and find I fall somewhere between the lacklustre general reception it received at the box office and the current more upbeat reviews its getting from more discerning viewers. It would be interesting to discuss.

      2. I will get around to Dr Sleep; as its been awhile I thought I might watch the directors cut and review that too, as many seem to think that is a better version. I’ll see how that goes- if I don’t get around to it soon I’ll just get into the 4K theatrical that I’ve seen (Claire isn’t keen on rewatching films -even slightly tweaked versions- too soon after first seeing them, so I’ll have to see if I can talk her around, its three hours long after all)..

        Regards older relatives, yeah, I know what you mean- my Dad has a heart condition that caused a hip replacement op to be cancelled last September, and badly impaired lung function due to a bout of pneumonia several years ago, and yet he insisted on going out each day last week. Thankfully I think we’ve got him convinced to stay in the house now. Its all very worrying though, no wonder some pundits are starting to get worried about the public’s mental health, the anxieties seem to be coming from all sides.

  1. I agree about the Blade Runner 2049 comparison. Both films are sequels to truly groundbreaking works of their genres and yet they are crafted by the respective filmmakers in such an unnervingly calm & composed fashion that they not only succeed as worthy successors to the original classics but are also impressive enough to succeed as standalone films. As for Doctor Sleep, I’m glad that Mike Flanagan chose to stay true to his craft rather than trying to imitate Kubrick’s aesthetics. It is a terrific homage to Kubrick’s movie that also retains the essence of Stephen King’s novel. One of the most delightful surprises of last year for me. Enough to garner a Top 10 spot in my Best of the Year list.

  2. Pingback: The 2020 List: March – the ghost of 82

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