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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

IT: Chapter 2

Back in the 1980’s, several films derived from the works of horror writer Stephen King conjured their own brand of terror. Poorly written, acted and directed several King adaptations have gone down into infamy. Due to technology finally reaching his imagination, recent works have been much better. ‘IT: Chapter 2’ is a fair addition. Following on from 2017’s ‘IT’, this outing does its best to restore King’s horrific reputation.

Twenty-seven years after his apparent demise, Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgard) returns for more carnage. Now adults, Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain) and Ben (Jay Ryan), the Losers Club who defeated him last time, must once again face their fears. Among them are). Spooky vengeance is on Pennywise’s agenda with his prey needing all their strength to defeat him once and for all.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ promises much but delivers little. On the plus ledger is Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise. A memorable villain in the style of Freddy Kruger from the ‘Nightmare in Elm Street’ films, the movie lights up whenever he appears. Unfortunately it isn’t as much as hoped with the story instead generally concentrating on the adult Losers Club, who are an unmemorable and dreary lot.

‘IT: Chapter 2’ repeats much of what happened previously. There’s a definite ‘seen it all before’ vibe, which the near three hour run-time highlights. There are flashes of inspired mayhem however with Muschietti showing flair in several large set-pieces. ‘IT: Chapter 2’s biggest problem is that it isn’t that scary, with the gargantuan length provoking more fear than what’s on screen.

Far better than some appalling shockers of the ‘80’s, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ doesn’t disgrace the King canon. It isn’t brilliant either as it occasionally threatens to turn into a lesson in horrific boredom. But those wanting to see vague thrills amongst personal trauma should enjoy a film that doesn’t do the clown industry any favours.

Rating out of 10: 6