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This movie does NOT get the attention it deserves and does NOT deserve the 51% Rotten Tomato score. Ben Stiller's take on a drama in front and behind the camera is breathtaking with its gorgeous cinematography, excellent score, and soundtrack, the nearly-perfect acting for its well-rounded characters, a relatable theme for its audience and its overall success and commitment to its execution. This film may be a 'slower burn' than expected, but do not let that 51% deter you from watching one of the most well-crafted dramas in modern film.
Alright, we're gonna start with an unpopular opinion: I didn't like "The Shining" as much as 90% of people who've seen it have, which is why, where I heard that Warner Bros. was creating a sequel, I wasn't all that interested. Don't get me wrong, I think Stanley Kubrick's take on Stephen King's novel, although deludes from the book, succeeds in its jaw-dropping cinematography, noisy score and Jack Nicholson performance, but I did not find the film to be all that 'scary,' more disturbing than anything else. Then they announced that Mike Flanagan was directing "Doctor Sleep" with Ewan McGregor taking on the role of Dan Torrance and I became ecstatic to see this film.
Mike Flanagan is one of the greatest directors in horror working today (If you have not seen "The Haunting of Hill House", "Gerald's Game" or "Hush," I highly recommend that you check any one of those out), and his unique style behind the camera is just as noticeable here than in any of his past work. The genius of Flanagan is his ability to sell the idea: the scariest things are implied. There are several moments in the film where the audience cannot see the full picture, and it's for the better because it increases the scares.
Where "Doctor Sleep" differs from Kubrick's "The Shining" is the antagonists are physical and feel very fleshed out. So much, that I would say they are the most fleshed out this year. Motives are understood and I was always interested whenever they are on screen, and this goes with all performances. Never once did I feel like I wanted less screen-time with a character.
Where most people will look at this film and think "That's where it lost it for me," is going to be the third act and I mostly disagree. The final act takes place at the Overlook Hotel, and it's here where Flanagan pays much homage to Kubrick's film. Similar shots and sequences are leading to the hotel and within it which some people will be turned off by, but to me, it felt like it did much justice to tying Kubrick's film to King's original source material. Where the movie loses me is right at the end. After the main antagonist "Rose the hat" is defeated, the movie kind of drags until the credits roll, but that's about 6 minutes of this two-and-a-half-hour runtime, and I was able to forgive the movie for its small hiccup.
Overall, I was floored by "Doctor Sleep" and everyone who has seen "The Shining" should definitely check this one out. Personally, I thought this was better than "The Shining," but I know that this is an opinion that very few will share.