4 November 2019

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

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Doctor Sleep follows the adult Danny Torrance as he’s haunted by the childhood trauma of what happened to him at the Overlook hotel. Big deal. We all stayed in shitty hotels as a child and we don’t all bang on about it. Have you ever been to Pontins in Prestatyn? Jesus Christ. If my Dad had chased me around that place with an axe then I’d have probably run towards him and just headbutted the fucking thing. Did Danny’s Dad have a drink problem? Everyone’s Dad has a drink problem! My Dad once got so drunk that he passed out and smashed his head on the toilet on the way down. That wasn’t even from my childhood. That was last fucking Sunday. I knew he’d gone the toilet but when I heard the sound of the fall I didn’t know if he’d had a stroke or was struggling with a really mighty turd. Oh, and did a scary lady try to strangle young Danny when he was staying in the hotel too? He survived didn’t he?! And she was naked. This took place decades before the internet was in every household and we could just access images of tits whenever we wanted. Sure she was an old haggard lady but what was the alternative? A copy of Readers Wives? I found a copy of that in the bushes once and I honestly think I’d prefer to have been choked out by the fucking granny.

So obviously this is a sequel to The Shining with Ewan McGregor now playing Danny, the young boy from that first film. Or at least I think that’s who he was playing. For the opening act, Danny is a substance-abusing fuck-up with a beard and psychic powers. It was as though Renton had finally convinced Obi-Wan to join the dark side. When we’re first introduced to him he’s also naked in bed with a woman that he barely remembers. I think that scene was just written in to fulfil Ewan McGregor’s contractual instance of appearing naked in all of his movies though. Having seen his bollocks in almost everything else, I honestly assume that George Lucas had to spend a chunk of his budget on CG-ing McGregor’s dick out of Star Wars. Danny eventually gets himself cleaned up and we find out that he’s spent his entire adult life trying to bury the psychic super-power that he calls his shine. This is until a young girl called Abra reveals that she too has that same power and he’s talked into helping her by an old dead shining mentor. Essentially there are so many people banging on about their ‘ability to shine’ here that you half expect Simon Cowell to turn up to convince you to fucking vote for them.

Meanwhile, there’s a gang of evil-doers led by Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat who are out to kill these gifted people to inhale their essence or something? A sort of gas comes out of the victim's mouth and they all seem to breathe it in, any way. It sort of looks like the cannibal equivalent of vaping I suppose. They also do it because they want to live forever and this process somehow allows that for them. But who the fuck wants to live forever? Clearly, somebody that’s never been to Pontins in Prestatyn. Ferguson’s character is also called Rose the Hat because she obviously wears a sort of top hat thing although it’s never really explained why. From the look of the hat and her general gypsy vibe, I’d assume that it might be because when she’s not killing psychics she does an acoustic set in some trendy wine bar type place? Although I have no evidence to support that. I’d also be annoyed if I was her and that was the case and I’d spent thousands of hours learning to play the guitar and yet it was my ability to put a fucking hat on that I became known for. Still. If you wear a top hat-type hat so often that you get a nickname out of it then I suppose you just have to be quietly grateful that it’s Rose the Hat and not Rose the Pretentious Twat.

Anyway, Rose and her gang discover Danny and Abra and decide to hunt them down for their energising-inside-gas because they’re worried that, “the world is less steamy now”. Although since I’ve been able to access pornhub on my phone I’d argue that the world has actually gotten a lot more steamy if we’re being honest. I suppose the film is really all about Danny’s need to understand his father whilst being aware of how close his alcoholism might be to turning him into him. In my own case I suppose the best way to avoid making the same mistakes as my Dad would be to avoid drinking too, or at the very least wear a crash-hat when I go for a piss. Danny is fighting multiple battles on multiple levels though, with his own inner demons causing him as much trouble as the real world monster-things coming after him. I guess he beats me on that one because I’m not really fighting any literal demons, although as a bachelor with a mainly cheese-based diet, there are certainly days where my own form of energising-inside-gas could get me into trouble too. When Rose the Hat comes after both Danny and Abra the film begins to feel more like a cross between Near Dark and Scanners than a sequel to The Shining, and I fucking loved it. You could even ignore The Shining connection and simply advertise this as Trampy vampire-things versus reluctant psychics and I'll be fucking here for it if I’m honest.

It’s pretty common knowledge that author of the original book of The Shining, Stephen King was not a fan of Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation. His main issue was that it should have been about a good man turning slowly mad whereas it’s pretty obvious in the film that Jack Nicholson is a fucking nutter to begin with. The subtle clue that this might be the case is that he’s Jack fucking Nicholson. I was literally just reading about Nicholson and apparently, he used to do so much coke that he’d separate it into the ‘upstairs coke’ for his special guests and the ‘downstairs coke’ for the general riff-raff that he’d have around partying. Jack Nicholson is so mad that he treats cocaine-like I do Quality Street chocolate and herbal teas. Not that this adaptation bullshit is a problem for most of us of course. I mean who the fuck reads books these days to care anyway? My internet-addled brain can’t even read a take-away menu for more than a few seconds now before it gets so bored that I panic and just shout out a random fucking order number. For us, that first film is about a family being locked up with a crazy man as he then spends the next two hours getting progressively crazier which seems just as scary to me. The brilliance of this film, we’re told, is that it has managed to please both sides of this debate by getting the thumbs up from both King and the Kubrick estate. So that’s a whoop-di-doopey point to give a shit about I suppose.

The reason that I loved this film, however, was because it was simply fun to see what one of my favourite horror directors could do with a big-budget. If you’ve not heard his name before then director Mike Flanagan is the guy who adapted The Haunting Of Hill House into that really cool series on Netflix. Like Doctor Sleep, that show and many of his other films have also involved the horror having a direct connection to the main characters past. There’s usually a familial element to his films and shows too which is obviously the case with Doctor Sleep. But you kind of get the feeling that as Rose the Hat has created her family out of the misfits that she’s found along the way that so too has Flanagan. The same actors continuously pop up in his work with Doctor Sleep being no exception. There’s one scene here involving the young Jacob Tremblay, who was in Flanagan’s previous Before I Wake which is so fucking horrible and is arguably tougher to watch than anything in even the first film. If you thought that the butler from The Shining that was sucked off by the man in the dog suit was scary then this film is going to shit you right the fuck up. They can put that quote on the poster too if they like. I’m assuming that Flanagan probably uses the same crew as well as cast too but I don’t have the patience for a fucking restaurant menu these days so I’m certainly not going to pay attention to the credits of a film. Maybe the Best Boy is the same each time but who even knows what the fuck a Best Boy is? I know that it’s an official job title but it honestly sounds like an award that a dog might win at fucking Crufts.

Flanagan’s films also tend to revolve around a certain building though too. In his Hush we see a deaf woman under siege begin to realise that she can use her disability catering house to her advantage and the entirety of his Gerald’s Game is about a character trying to escape the house that she’s tied up in. I think there might be some kind of building involved in The Haunting Of Hill House too. I know that pointing out that a director's films often feature buildings might not be the most astute of observations but also you can go fuck yourself. In Doctor Sleep Flanagan gets to play with one of the most iconic buildings in all of horror history with the Overlook Hotel and if I’m honest this is probably the weakest part of the move. I won’t reveal too much but Danny is forced to return there by the third act and it’s here that things become a bit fan-service-y. At one point Danny literally just walks about the place as though showing it off to us like a particularly bleak episode of Homes Under The Hammer. Certain characters have also had to be re-cast from the first movie too which although unavoidable does give the final half-hour a sort of cosplay-vibe. Rather than being a criticism of how the film concludes, however, I think that this is more of a sign of how strong those first two hours have already been. Danny might not have loved being forced to relive his worst nightmares but I certainly enjoyed it more than I did a trip to fucking Pontins in Prestatyn. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.

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