Doctor Sleep UHD Review

Absorbing continuation of The Shining doesn't match its brilliance. 3.5 Stars

Directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep cannily honors both Stephen King’s original novel The Shining and Kubrick’s movie version as it focuses on the adult life of the original’s child protagonist now grown but dealing with his supernatural gifts in a terror-filled new tale.

Doctor Sleep (2019)
Released: 08 Nov 2019
Rated: R
Runtime: 152 min
Director: Mike Flanagan
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis
Writer(s): Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan (screenplay)
Plot: Years following the events of "The Shining," a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 59

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 02/04/2020
MSRP: $44.95

The Production: 3.5/5

Despite its controversial reception upon its release for its length, pacing, and only semi-faithfulness to its source material, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining remains one of the 20th century’s most seminal horror films. Now almost forty years after the fact, its sequel Doctor Sleep arrives to continue the story of its now legendary characters. Directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep cannily honors both Stephen King’s original novel and Kubrick’s movie version as it focuses on the adult life of the original’s child protagonist now grown but dealing uneasily with his supernatural gifts in a terror-filled new tale.

Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has spent almost forty years getting his life in order after the horrific events leading to the death of his father when he was five years old. Now a recovering alcoholic acting as an orderly in a hospice tending to the dying using his “shining” powers to help ease them into the afterlife (hence his title “Doctor Sleep”), Dan has finally gotten his act together with the help of best friend Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis). Dan, however, comes into telepathic contact with a young girl whose shining powers are the greatest he’s ever experienced, young Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), who finds herself being stalked by a vampire-like cult called the True Knot who have survived for centuries breathing the essences of children they’ve murdered who also possess “the shining.” The cult led by uber-powerful priestess Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) has set its sights on Abra whose death essence could sustain them for a long time. Together, Dan and Abra plan her rescue.

Adapting Stephen King’s sequel novel for the screen, director Mike Flanagan takes his time setting up Dan’s backstory and sad young adulthood as well as showing us details of the intricacies of the True Knot cult before we actually settle into the story of the stalking of Abra (hence the film’s 2 ½ hour running time with its director’s cut running thirty minutes longer). As Flanagan ping pongs back-and-forth between Dan and the True Knot, one feels he’s mimicking Stanley’s Kubrick’s deliberate pacing of The Shining in setting up his players and their stakes before the murder and mayhem begin. There are a couple of murder scenes with children that are most disturbing (thankfully, gore is kept to a minimum), and Flanagan’s visualization of Rose’s ability to traverse time and space to get inside the heads of her victims is quite lyrical. More visceral, of course, is a brilliantly set-up scene of ambush as Dan, Billy, and Abra lure the cult into a forest so they can be eliminated. And, naturally, the infamous Overlook Hotel (which we do see in brief scenes at the movie’s beginning as key moments in The Shining are recreated as faithful to Kubrick’s original as they could be) plays a major part in the film’s final hour as it serves as the location for the climactic face-off between the forces of good and evil (and the detail in these recreations is so spectacularly stunning that you’ll swear you’re back on Kubrick’s original sets: the doors, windows, corridors, rooms, ballroom, and hedge maze all remain timeless and remarkable in their ability to shock and startle). Flanagan also takes advantage of Wendy Carlos’ music themes and other music used in The Shining to abet the Doctor Sleep background score, again instantly transporting us back into the moody terrors of that terrible place as the events of the story play out: sadly, King and Flanagan go off the rails a little in this climax as Dan becomes momentarily imbued with the evil spirits of the site turning into his dad. It doesn’t seem to quite ring true with the character’s having dealt with those demons long ago.

Ewan McGregor is a solid presence as Dan Torrance, and we can easily believe the Danny from The Shining grew up to be him. (By the way, Danny Lloyd who played Danny in the original film has a small part in this movie.) Rebecca Ferguson brings brilliant villainy to the fore as the powerful Rose the Hat. Her number one henchman Crow Daddy is played with steely loyalty and determination by Zahn McClarnon. Kyliegh Curran as the telepathically gifted Abra Stone shows complete ease and command before the camera, a real find. Cliff Curtis is an earnest best friend as Billy Freeman while Emily Alyn Lind has a wonderfully maniacal manner as cult member Snakebite Andi who has the power of unstoppable persuasion. Recreating characters from The Shining, Carl Lumbly is an excellent Dick Hallorann, Alex Essoe and Roger Dale Floyd are reasonable facsimiles of Wendy and Danny, Sallye Hooks is okay as the horrific walking corpse Mrs. Massey, and Henry Thomas, while lacking the quirky craziness of Jack Nicholson’s original portrayal of Jack Torrance, has a certain physical resemblance that makes him a passable doppelganger.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully rendered in this 2160p transfer using the HEVC codec. Sharpness, color, contrast, and detail are all excellent, sometimes startlingly photorealistic, aided in no small measure by Dolby Vision application which renders the colors very lifelike and the image pristine in appearance without any oversaturation or blow out brightness levels. The movie has been divided into 19 chapters. (The disc also contains HDR-10+ for those so equipped.)

Audio: 5/5

The Dolby Atmos sound mix utilizes every possible aural direction for maximum effectiveness, placing howling winds in the height speakers once we return to the snowy dread of the Overlook and emphasizing startling punches of bass for jump scares and various shocks. Dialogue has been clearly recorded and mostly appears in the center channel with ghostly remembrances sometimes placed in various surround channels. The effective new music from the Newton Brothers and various sound effects are cannily threaded through the available channels for optimum efficacy.

Special Features: 3.5/5

The UHD disc contains the theatrical cut. The Director’s Cut (running 180 minutes) appears only on the enclosed Blu-ray disc.

Also on the UHD disc are the following featurettes:

From Shining to Sleep (4:56, HD): novelist Stephen King and writer-director Mike Flanagan discuss the original novel and its sequel along with Kubrick’s maligned film version of the original. Flanagan insists his job was to piece the worlds of King and Kubrick together into a seamless whole.

The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision (13:57, HD): a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film with comments from writer Stephen King, director Mike Flanagan, producer Trevor Macy, costume designer Terry Anderson, makeup coordinators Robert Kurtzman and Marcia King, and cast members Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Selena Anduze, and Robert Longstreet, among others.

Return to the Overlook (14:59, HD): fascinating look at the efforts to recreate the sets from The Shining with comments from Mike Flanagan, Trevor Macy, Ewan McGregor, Carl Lumbly, Henry Thomas, Alex Essoe, and Sallye Hooks, among others.

Blu-ray Disc/Digital Code: enclosed in the case.

Overall: 3.5/5

Doctor Sleep may not become the classic The Shining has become over the decades since its release, but it’s still an absorbing continuation of the story of its young protagonist in his troubled adult years. The Warner 4K disc release offers tremendous video and audio quality which will make a nice companion piece to Warner’s recent release of The Shining on 4K.

Published by

Matt Hough

editor,member

58 Comments

  1. I downloaded the 4k digital that went on sale for $10.

    I was talked into watching The Director's Cut

    Little did I know it would take up most of my day at 3 hours in length. This is as maddening to sit through as was The Irishman.

    That's not to say I was disappointed.

    This film takes its time to open its story, letting its viewers understand exactly what is going on.

    I spent the first 45 minutes or so wondering why I got myself involved in this film.

    Being the Director's cut the film, I felt I was getting a substantial backstory and thus, I found myself becoming very invested with the characters.

    There is not only tremendous homage given to THE SHINING, but it actually succeeds in being a better film than the original.

    That's a tough act to top, but this film manages to do that.

    First, it actually explains THE SHINING, a film I have never really fully understood (nor fully appreciated) until I watched this sequel.

    Next, it tells its story with a very creepy set of vampire-like characters that feed off of those, like Danny Torrance, who "shine."

    There has been no attempt here to do a simple knock-off of the original film. Instead, they moved the original forward in such a way that it and its legion of fans embrace one another.

    While three hours is a long time to sit through this, I felt as if I had seen a better film without even knowing what had been cut from the theatrical release.

    The 4k presentation is excellent.

  2. Ronald Epstein

    I downloaded the 4k digital that went on sale for $10.

    I was talked into watching The Director's Cut

    Little did I know it would take up most of my day at 3 hours in length. This is as maddening to sit through as was The Irishman.

    That's not to say I was disappointed.

    This film takes its time to open its story, letting its viewers understand exactly what is going on.

    I spent the first 45 minutes or so wondering why I got myself involved in this film.

    Being the Director's cut the film, I felt I was getting a substantial backstory and thus, I found myself becoming very invested with the characters.

    There is not only tremendous homage given to THE SHINING, but it actually succeeds in being a better film than the original.

    That's a tough act to top, but this film manages to do that.

    First, it actually explains THE SHINING, a film I have never really fully understood (nor fully appreciated) until I watched this sequel.

    Next, it tells its story with a very creepy set of vampire-like characters that feed off of those, like Danny Torrance, who "shine."

    There has been no attempt here to do a simple knock-off of the original film. Instead, they moved the original forward in such a way that it and its legion of fans embrace one another.

    While three hours is a long time to sit through this, I felt as if I had seen a better film without even knowing what had been cut from the theatrical release.

    The 4k presentation is excellent.

    Ron, just double checking. Both versions of the iTunes purchase are 4K?

  3. dpippel

    While I really liked Doctor Sleep, The Shining is still a better film IMO. NO contest. It's that Kubrick magic. 😉

    I get that. I’m actually watching The Shining right now with my wife before I show her Dr Sleep. And my opinion remains that Dr Sleep is the better film. I love the atmosphere and performances in the Shining but it’s soo slooow.

  4. dpippel

    While I really liked Doctor Sleep, The Shining is still a better film IMO. NO contest. It's that Kubrick magic. 😉

    I get that. I’m actually watching The Shining right now with my wife before I show her Dr Sleep. And my opinion remains that Dr Sleep is the better film. I love the atmosphere and performances in the Shining but it’s soo slooow.

  5. @Tino you might enjoy Kubrick’s UK cut of The Shining – it’s about 20 minutes shorter and he made the deletions after the US version opened to lukewarm reviews and business. It’s an interesting artifact in his career because unlike other films where he’s made changes after the initial release, both versions remain in print.

  6. @Tino you might enjoy Kubrick’s UK cut of The Shining – it’s about 20 minutes shorter and he made the deletions after the US version opened to lukewarm reviews and business. It’s an interesting artifact in his career because unlike other films where he’s made changes after the initial release, both versions remain in print.

  7. dpippel

    While I really liked Doctor Sleep, The Shining is still a better film IMO. NO contest. It's that Kubrick magic. 😉

    While I appreciate the Kubrick style, I find his movies a bit cold and detached.

  8. dpippel

    While I really liked Doctor Sleep, The Shining is still a better film IMO. NO contest. It's that Kubrick magic. 😉

    While I appreciate the Kubrick style, I find his movies a bit cold and detached.

  9. Josh Steinberg

    @Tino you might enjoy Kubrick’s UK cut of The Shining – it’s about 20 minutes shorter and he made the deletions after the US version opened to lukewarm reviews and business. It’s an interesting artifact in his career because unlike other films where he’s made changes after the initial release, both versions remain in print.

    HUH! I have a UK BR of The Shining, and it says it's 119 minutes, while imdb says 146 for the original. I had no idea. Haven't seen it in 20 years.

  10. Josh Steinberg

    @Tino you might enjoy Kubrick’s UK cut of The Shining – it’s about 20 minutes shorter and he made the deletions after the US version opened to lukewarm reviews and business. It’s an interesting artifact in his career because unlike other films where he’s made changes after the initial release, both versions remain in print.

    HUH! I have a UK BR of The Shining, and it says it's 119 minutes, while imdb says 146 for the original. I had no idea. Haven't seen it in 20 years.

  11. JohnRice

    HUH! I have a UK BR of The Shining, and it says it's 119 minutes, while imdb says 146 for the original. I had no idea. Haven't seen it in 20 years.

    I have the UK disc as well and that sounds about right for running time. He doesn’t really cut any big plot points as far as I can remember, but everything does get trimmed down so by comparison it’s a much faster paced film.

  12. JohnRice

    HUH! I have a UK BR of The Shining, and it says it's 119 minutes, while imdb says 146 for the original. I had no idea. Haven't seen it in 20 years.

    I have the UK disc as well and that sounds about right for running time. He doesn’t really cut any big plot points as far as I can remember, but everything does get trimmed down so by comparison it’s a much faster paced film.

  13. Tino

    I get that. I’m actually watching The Shining right now with my wife before I show her Dr Sleep. And my opinion remains that Dr Sleep is the better film. I love the atmosphere and performances in the Shining but it’s soo slooow.

    For me, the pacing is one of The Shining's greatest strengths. The slow buildup is integral to its chills.

  14. Tino

    I get that. I’m actually watching The Shining right now with my wife before I show her Dr Sleep. And my opinion remains that Dr Sleep is the better film. I love the atmosphere and performances in the Shining but it’s soo slooow.

    For me, the pacing is one of The Shining's greatest strengths. The slow buildup is integral to its chills.

  15. Tino

    While I like The Shining a lot, one thing it is not is scary. It’s well made, well acted and technically impressive. Creepy maybe. Scary?..not at all. Ymmv.

    First time I watched it during its theatrical run, I thought it was scary. But, I'm a scary cat anyhow, just say boo to me and I'm off and running.:)

  16. Robert Crawford

    First time I watched it during its theatrical run, I thought it was scary. But, I'm a scary cat anyhow, just say boo to me and I'm off and running.:)

    I think I pretty much feel the same way about it as I did on opening day in 1980. I just can’t think of one scene in the film that i I think is actually scary.

  17. Tino

    I think I pretty much feel the same way about it as I did on opening day in 1980. I just can’t think of one scene in the film that i I think is actually scary.

    That's cool, I'm just pointing out that others like myself feel differently.

  18. Josh Steinberg

    If you watch it for the first time when you’re in middle school, home alone and in a completely dark basement, it’ll absolutely scare the shit out of you 😀

    I guess. I was 16 when I first saw it.

  19. Yes, I'm easily scared, too. I was scared by room 237: we were told by Dick that we should stay out of there, and Danny rode by once and resisted temptation. Later when Jack went to investigate after Danny was injured, I was hiding my eyes behind my hands as he went in and things started to transpire. I was also scared by small things like Danny turning a corner on his Big Wheels and running into the twins (with a crash on the soundtrack to emphasize the shock). I jumped when Jack appeared when Wendy was reading his manuscript horrified by what she was seeing. I knew Jack was lying in wait for Dick and DREADED what he might do to him. The chase through the hedge maze was very frightening knowing what Jack would do to Danny if he caught him (I hadn't read the book and had no idea whether Danny would live or die, much less that the hedge chase was an invention of the movie).

    All of these things scared me. I was on the edge of my seat in the theater.

  20. Tino

    Which scenes are scary in The Shining to you guys? I don’t think Dr Sleep is scary either by the way.

    For me, it wasn’t any particular scene that stood out; it was more the atmosphere of dread, and being placed inside the mind of someone who’s losing his grip on reality. In the end it wasn’t so much what did happen as it was the feeling that anything could happen at any time. Kubrick films can be very hypnotic and I was just totally under its spell.

    The movie can still give me the creeps sometimes probably just from the memory of what it felt like to see it for the first time.

  21. Malcolm R

    Just discovered that apparently I don't own a copy of The Shining, but I do have Doctor Sleep. Do I need to watch The Shining first? Or does DS stand alone?

    I would put a second hight recommendation for THE SHINING first.

    I think Doctor Sleep, with all its references, is a far better film with the knowledge of the first.

    In fact, it's like re-discovering the first film.

  22. Yeah. I thought the theatrical version of Dr Sleep was pretty much perfect as is. To those that have seen both, Does the extra 30 minutes drastically change/improve the film? Or is it pretty much just padding?

  23. Malcolm R

    Just discovered that apparently I don't own a copy of The Shining, but I do have Doctor Sleep. Do I need to watch The Shining first? Or does DS stand alone?

    I think the effectiveness of Doctor Sleep is magnified with some prior knowledge of The Shining, especially since it recreates so winningly the look and feel of the hotel that plays such an instrumental part in both movies.

  24. dpippel

    For me, the pacing is one of The Shining's greatest strengths. The slow buildup is integral to its chills.

    My biggest problem with "Shining" is and probably always will be the lack of buildup for Jack.

    This is a character who should descend into madness, but as played by Nicholson, he always seems creepy and weird.

    As such, his mental state declines some, but not as much as it should if he seemed like a normal guy at the start…

  25. Tino

    While I like The Shining a lot, one thing it is not is scary. It’s well made, well acted and technically impressive. Creepy maybe. Scary?..not at all. Ymmv.

    I saw "Shining" 1st run in 1980 when I was 13, and I don't recall thinking it was particularly scary. I loved it – and the movie got me into King's novels – but I can't remember the feeling that it disturbed me.

    That summer's "Friday the 13th" got to me, though – the end when Betsy Palmer's head gets lopped off gave me nightmares!

  26. Okay, I am going to INSIST…

    First of all, Matt Hough could not have said it better.

    You can't go into DOCTOR SLEEP without seeing THE SHINING first. Most of the film won't make sense to you — and I didn't want to spoil this part but it has been done already — the revisiting of the film's main locale is so much more magnified and appreciated after seeing the original film. You just marvel at the reconstruction of the original scenes including some very "pointed" door damage.

    YOU MUST see THE SHINING before watching DOCTOR SLEEP.

    Another point I am going to insist upon…

    I just read a very detailed look at the scenes added to the Director's Cut

    https://consequenceofsound.net/2020/01/doctor-sleep-directors-cut-rundown/

    Don't read this page until after you see the film, but you will be disappointed if you watch the theatrical version and miss out on these additions.

    I believe the Director's Cut only adds about 30 minutes of extra material but after reading what it was, I would have rather watched the longer cut.

  27. Matt Hough

    I think the effectiveness of Doctor Sleep is magnified with some prior knowledge of The Shining, especially since it recreates so winningly the look and feel of the hotel that plays such an instrumental part in both movies.

    I agree 100% with you and Ron, Matt. Watching The Shining first is absolutely essential for understanding and enjoying Doctor Sleep. Without doing so, much of what happens the latter film has no context.

  28. Tino

    I think I pretty much feel the same way about it as I did on opening day in 1980. I just can’t think of one scene in the film that i I think is actually scary.

    I don't know about that. It was scary the first time I watched it. I feared for Grady when he arrives at the Overlook Hotel looking for the family after his visions. And after that I was terrified that Jack's wife, and son would be chopped up with an axe. It was scary the first time I saw it. the 25 times or so after that viewing I just enjoy the performances, and movie, as I know how it turns out.

  29. Matt Hough

    I think the effectiveness of Doctor Sleep is magnified with some prior knowledge of The Shining, especially since it recreates so winningly the look and feel of the hotel that plays such an instrumental part in both movies.

    Thanks for all the replies. I would consider myself to have some prior knowledge of The Shining. I know the basics of the overall story and have at least watched bits and pieces over the years as the film runs on cable, but I don't really have any memory of actually watching the film from start to finish. Maybe I'll order the UK version on blu-ray. Sounds like perhaps that's a more streamlined version, as my opinion over the years from watching the "bits and pieces" is that it's incredibly slow-moving.

  30. Colin Jacobson

    I saw "Shining" 1st run in 1980 when I was 13, and I don't recall thinking it was particularly scary. I loved it – and the movie got me into King's novels – but I can't remember the feeling that it disturbed me.

    That summer's "Friday the 13th" got to me, though – the end when Betsy Palmer's head gets lopped off gave me nightmares!

    I remember seeing that film in a little downtown theater in Danville, Illinois and laughing my ass off during that scene as some people in my almost full audience looked at me like I was crazy. For some reason, it just cracked me up with her headless body and her flinging arms. I know, I'm weird.:)

  31. I actually don't recall the first time I saw The Shining. I would have been 15, but I have no doubt I saw it in the theater. I had already read it. I read a lot of King in Jr. and Sr High School, but got tired of him after that. The movie was kind of a big deal around here, since I grew up about 50 miles from the hotel that inspired it. They did actually shoot a handful of scenes in Estes Park, CO. though the Outlook Hotel in the movie is absolutely nothing like The Stanley Hotel the book is inspired by. I suppose I thought it was scary, maybe not.

  32. Bryan^H

    It was scary the first time I watched it. I feared for Dick Halloran(Scatman Crothers) when he arrives at the Overlook Hotel looking for the family after his visions. And after that I was terrified that Jack's wife, and son would be chopped up with an axe.

    I hear you I just don’t think those scenes were “scary”. I guess we’ll just agree to disagree on the definitions of scary.

  33. Tino

    I hear you I just don’t think those scenes were “scary”. I guess we’ll just agree to disagree on the definitions of scary.

    Well different types of scary. There is only one film that truly legit scares me. I watched the Exorcist once. Never again.

  34. I don't think I have been scared of many films. Perhaps Nightmare on Elm Street and The Conjuring.

    However, I have difficulty watching vampire films. Something about the practice of draining blood from a victim that bothers me. One movie I will not watch again is INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.

    I think that is why I found Doctor Sleep to be very creepy. Its villains partake in vampire practices and I found it somewhat disturbing.

  35. Ronald Epstein

    However, I have difficulty watching vampire films. Something about the practice of draining blood from a victim that bothers me. One movie I will not watch again is INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE

    Funny, as I've always thought of that as one of the least vampire-ish vampire films ever. That and Twilight. 😀 Though it's been so long since I've seen Interview, maybe I'm hazy on the details.

    You should (not) check out 30 Days of Night 😮

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