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Doctor Sleep

‘Doctor Sleep’ is a sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel, ‘The Shining’. Stanley Kubrick directed the 1980 film which became a horror classic. As usual in the entertainment world, success breeds sequels. To be fair, King has never shied away from follow-ups with several of his work spinning into new instalments. Directed by the consistently excellent Mike Flanagan, ‘Doctor Sleep’ effectively jangles the nerves until the final reel.

Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), is still traumatized from past experiences. Having seen his father driven to madness whilst managing the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s life since has seen him turn to alcoholism and violence. Cursed with the abilities of ‘The Shining’, his attempts at a normal life are thwarted by Rose (Rebecca Ferguson) a cult leader determined to grab his powers. Returning to the Overlook Hotel, Danny hopes to defeat Rose’s coven and exorcise past demons.

More of a psychological thriller than genuine horror film, ‘Doctor Sleep’ generally succeeds in crafting an unsettling atmosphere. Danny’s plight feels very real as he attempts to stop being a slave to past evil and forge new horizons. McGregor is solid as always and is more than aided by Ferguson as his sinister adversary. She exudes true menace making for an unpredictable character who does whatever it takes to win.

Flanagan is wise to not use too much of the well known elements from ‘The Shining’ to support ‘Doctor Sleep’. It stands on its own feet with a strong story leading to a grand finale. There’s little gore to speak of which speaks volumes in Flanagan’s ability to generate scares without obvious clichés. As a continuation of the overall mythology, it successfully enhances what came before.

Films based on Stephen King novels have been very hit and miss. ‘Doctor Sleep’ rests in the former category with ease. It’s a finely tune terror movie that stays with you. Flanagan has a great future in the genre and hopefully he continues making works such as these to spook audiences for years to come.

Rating out of 10: 7

Terminator: Dark Fate

The sixth entry in the enduring ‘Terminator’ series, ‘Dark Fate’ highlights the quote ‘the law of diminishing returns’. The producers appear determined to squeeze every last dollar from the franchise as it regurgitates previously told plotlines. This makes ‘Dark Fate’ feel very familiar with originality taking a back seat. Only ‘Terminator’ die-hards may get a kick out of a film from an increasingly desperate series.

When a new terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future, all hell breaks loose. Its target is Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) who holds the key to mankind’s survival. Only Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and an older terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can protect her. With so much at stake, the fight for the future becomes an intense battle to the death.

Tim Miller directs this frequently tired-looking ‘Terminator’ instalment. The performances, script and visuals all exhibit a drab, grey hue preventing any genuine colour. ‘Terminator 2’ remains the best entry, as it had all the elements needed for an epic adventure. ‘Dark Fate’ has none of that as it takes itself far too seriously with tiresome earnestness.

Even the acting doesn’t provide much solace. Whilst a ‘Terminator’ movie isn’t known for its thespian marvels, the actors at least conveyed genuine emotion amongst the action. Only Schwarzenegger has any life to his welcome appearance with the rest phoning things in. Action-wise it’s hit and miss as the story rehashes plot points done far better previously.

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ proves why the ‘Terminator’ concept shouldn’t have become an ongoing series. It only had a limited idea that by its sixth film is stretched to breaking point. Only the occasional action scenes enlivens a rather dour and boring affair with the only bright moment is when it finally ends.

Rating out of 10: 5