Can this horror sequel out-scary the original classic?

The shadow of a classic thriller looms large over its sequel. But will this chilling follow-up stand out to leave its own mark?

Sequels are the norm nowadays – think Lego Movie 2, Avenger: Endgame

Film studios in an attempt to stir both nostalgia and increase box-office revenues have resorted to this avenue, whether it’s a prequel, retelling, re-imagining or a follow up.

Horror movies are no exception. But while other genres, particularly superhero titles, are raking in big bucks, horror sequels can be a hit or miss affair.

Only a few have managed to turn heads with movies like Friday the 13th 2, Scream 2, Ouija: Origin of Evil, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and The Exorcist III coming to mind.

So, it was with great interest when reports came out that one of cinema’s most iconic horror films would get the sequel treatment 39 years after terrorising viewers.

Doctor Sleep is a follow up to The Shining (1980), and both were written originally as a novel by American author Stephen King.

In the film, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) continues to deal with the trauma he experienced as a child at the cursed Overlook Hotel. A meeting with a teenager with similar extrasensory gift leads to a partnership to battle a supernatural cult.

“I saw The Shining in eighth grade. I watched it on VHS at a sleepover and was petrified, totally petrified. And I didn’t really start to digest the movie properly and understand it from a filmmaking perspective until I got older,” director Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus) told

Being a fan of the movie and both Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick (The Shining’s director), and actually being tasked to bring to life the sequel are two different things.

“I was initially incredibly excited. And then really nervous because I had this feeling I think a lot of people have, which is, don’t mess with The Shining,” Mike said about the enormity of the job at hand.

While replicating the success of The Shining would be an ideal scenario, the 41-year-old director wants Doctor Sleep to leave its own scary mark to viewers.

The Shining’s done and perfect. What I love the most about it [Doctor Sleep] was that the difference in King as a storyteller, from when he wrote The Shining, aware of his own alcoholism, and writing that as an expression of a fear of what that could do to his own family as he’s gotten older and was sober,” reflected Mike.

“Looking at The Shining, being about addiction and Doctor Sleep being about recovery, and that to me felt so perfect.

“And that was a journey that Jack as a character could not take. And so, it was up to Dan to pick up the mantle and succeed where his father failed.”

He continued: “I looked at it as this being the other side of The Shining, this other side of the coin, where addiction versus recovery, fire versus ice, and if The Shining is in the snow and ice, then Doctor Sleep is burning, and the contradictions of it and how they work together, really I thought was just magnificent.”

Doctor Sleep screens in UAE theatres starting on 7th November.

Also starring: Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly and Zahn McClarnon
Rating: 15+

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