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Doctor Sleep  (DVD)


Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Cliff Curtis, Emily Alyn Lind, Carel Struycken, Bruce Greenwood, Carl Lumbly

Director: Mike Flanagan

Billed by its director as a 'descendant' of The Shining, this is a much more conventional horror film, cleaving closer to its author, Stephen King, then Kubrick's iconic original. And, as such, there's no way such a film should run close to two and a half hours.

It's more than 20 years since the events of The Shining and Danny (McGregor), son of the mad Jack Torrance, is now an alcoholic drifter, visited occasionally by a ghost (Lumbly) from the dreaded Overlook hotel (in whose maze his father froze to death) and still carrying remnants of the 'shining', an ability to see both past and future events and place himself in a fellow shiner's body.

Eight years further on, Danny is alcohol-free, has more or less rehabilitated himself and has a part-time job as the local hospice, where he and the hospice cat between them know exactly when one of the elderly patients is going to die.

Across the country. a mixed-race sub-teen called Abra (cadabra?), brilliantly played by newcomer Curran, has a much younger and fiercer version of the shining and has powers of telepathic telekinesis, or some such. Normally, these people would qualify for membership of the X-Men, but here they represent a threat to the lifestyle of The True Knot, a clan of long-lived vampiric caravan dwellers, led by the lethal Rose the Hat (Ferguson), who 'eat screams' and 'drink pain', as they mutilate and devour their (mostly child) victims, inhaling their dying 'steam', a bit like a bad guy in King's own Cat's Eye, only messier.

The girl and Danny have soon teamed up, and, with the latter's friend Billy (Curtis), set out to wipe The True Knot from the face of the earth (when killed, the Knotters disintegrate, like Dracula in the Hammer original, only with more 'steam').

McGregor is perfectly OK, underplaying nicely in some scenes, while Ferguson has a high old time as the gleaming-eyed Rose. But the whole thing has a hand-me-down feel and is in any case bedevilled by a director who just doesn't know when to cry 'Cut!'.

David Quinlan

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by FotoKem.
144 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 17 Mar 2020