• 72°

THE MOVIE GUY — Scary new villain makes Shining sequel shine

"Dr. Sleep”

Warner Brothers Pictures

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Rated R

3 Stars

I count Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining among my favorite movies of all time. Despite Stephen King’s outspoken distaste for the film, it has become an undisputed horror classic, known for its expertly-metered tension, iconic visual style and gonzo acting performances.

Kubrick’s 1980 film still emits a powerful influence upon Dr. Sleep, the sequel that hits theaters this weekend. This is a nifty little fright flick that should please most horror fans, right up until the moment it feels the need to return to the Overlook Hotel and pay respects to Kubrick’s film. Much of what makes Dr. Sleep so unsettling is abandoned in favor of paying homage to Kubrick’s horror masterpiece.

It’s a shame that it loses steam in the end but Dr. Sleep is still pretty good for most of its running time.

This is the continuing story of Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), the little boy with the tricycle and the supernatural abilities from the original movie. He has grown up and learned to control his powers, but his life unravels once again when he decides to help protect a girl (Kyliegh Curran) who is being hunted by a band of psychic cannibals known as the True Knot.

Led by the terrifying Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) this band of baddies preys upon children with supernatural abilities. They torture them and then consume their life force. This is shown in explicit detail in one genuinely disturbing sequence that will haunt my dreams.

I’m not exaggerating here. Rose the Hat is one of the more memorable horror villains that I’ve seen in a long time. Horror fans should absolutely love, and fear this charismatic character.

The problem is that by the time Rose faces off against Danny and the girl with the powers, the filmmakers forget about the frights and instead turn their attention to slavishly recreating the Kubrick’s hotel set. They have done an amazing job bringing the set and characters back to life, but I would have preferred a better ending to the film over the superb production design.

I would have also preferred a shorter movie, but thanks to the success of It, all Stephen King movies must now run 2½ hours in length, whether the story merits that run time or not.

Despite my misgivings about the over-extended ending, I must admit that I enjoyed catching up with Danny as a grown man. Director Mike Flanagan has once again delivered a scary story that should leave fright fans clamoring to see what he does next. Throw in some cool visuals and Fergusson’s terrifying new villain and you have a film that is almost strong enough to shun Kubrick’s film and stand on its own merits.

Almost.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.