2019 is the year of Stephen King adaptations.
Pet Semetary, IT Chapter Two, and now Dr Sleep; all are books that have been adapted to films in 2019.
However, Pet Semetary and It Chapter Two are decent films rather than the exciting and intense novels King delivered.
This is not the case for the Dr Sleep adaptation, though, because I was genuinely surprised not only by how good of an adaptation it is but also by how it successfully deviates from the source material.
Directed by Mike Flanagan, the film takes places decades after the events of The Shining, with Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) having become an alcoholic.
After becoming pen pals with a young girl named Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), who has the strongest shining he had ever seen, Dan learns from her of a cult of vampire-like creatures called the True Knot that feed off children with the Shining.
Both McGregor and Curran do great jobs as their characters, especially Curran who gives the best performance of the film in a scene where she is in a car.
Another highlight is Rebecca Ferguson as the sinister Rose the Hat, the leader of the True Knot who manages to make the simple sentence, “well, hi there” terrifying.
Adding to this terror is the film’s score, one of which is the True Knot’s theme of a heartbeat which is very fitting because it got my heart going a mile a minute in fear every time I heard it.
Likewise, the cinematography is great with Flanagan mixing his own style with that of The Shining‘s perfectly.
What really surprised me about Dr Sleep, though, is the twists it brings to the story.
Having read the novel, I thought I knew what was going to happen but I was dead wrong.
For example, I fully expected one horrific scene from the novel to be cut or left vague but no, they go all out on it, creating the most terrifying scene I have seen all year.
I would go as far to say that the film adaptation is way more darker than the novel, especially when it comes to the fate of the characters.
I honestly have no idea why people are saying this film is not scary.
It makes no sense to me how people can watch the Bradley Trevor (Jacob Tremblay) scene and not be horrified by it.
Another twist to the story that really surprised me is not only that the film manages to be a great Dr Sleep adaptation while being a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which King infamously hates, but also that it manages to adapt The Shining novel as well.
This creates an ending very different from the Dr Sleep novel that left me with an entirely different experience that I did not expect but really enjoyed.
However, this is where my one issues comes in, and that is how this ending feels a bit like a different plot to the main one with the True Knot.
It kind of felt like it switched storylines pretty abruptly and that was a bit jarring.
The change was still really good but the difference in storylines was noticeable.
So, overall, I have good and bad feelings about the changes to Dr Sleep‘s ending.
Still, I found the film to be the best Stephen King adaptation of the year as Flanagan did a fantastic job adapting and changing the novel for the screen.
It is just a shame that it is currently failing at the box office because it is a really good film.
If you have not seen Dr Sleep yet I advise you to check it out.