If you're a fan of spooky movies, full-on horror movies or even just really well-made movies with grade-A casts, there's a good chance you've seen "The Shining." It's renowned as a classic, and you'll be hard pressed to find something that references Jack Nicholson without a "Hereeeee's Johnny!" thrown in somewhere.
In case, by chance, you haven't seen it, let me paint a little picture for you. It's directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick -- you know, the same director behind classics like "Clockwork Orange," "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Lolita;" the kind of movies that hipster film buffs like to discuss over IPAs and pretentiousness. Released in 1980, it tells the story of Nicholson's character Jack Torrance, who moves to the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies to work as the off-season caretaker with his wife and their son, Danny. Now, Danny is unique in that he has "the shining," the ability to communicate with beings in other dimensions and see into the hotel's very troubled past. A lot to handle for a 5-year-old, eh?
Basically, a bunch of weird sh*t starts happening the longer they stay, and Jack eventually loses it -- partially from the isolation and partially because of all the supernatural forces at work on him -- exactly like the caretaker who was there before them, who went crazy and killed his entire family and himself. Jack goes after his family before [spoiler] they finally escape and he dies in the end.
That is obviously putting the plot very lightly, but if you haven't seen it, go do it.
Which brings us to "Doctor Sleep." I could be alone in this, but I really had no idea that someone made a sequel to "The Shining." Granted, it came out in 2019, so it is fairly new. But who woulda thought, after all these years?! Thankfully, similar to "The Shining," "Doctor Sleep" is also based on the Stephen King novel of the same name (although King reportedly hates the first film). So as far as storylines go, this is a sequel through and through -- but with better CGI.
"Doctor Sleep" picks up in present day as if the past 40 years really have gone by. Danny Torrance is now an adult (played by Ewan McGregor), but is still plagued by the events that he witnessed at the Overlook Hotel as a kid. Because of his, he's fallen into alcoholism and for all intents and purposes, has hit rock bottom. So he up and moves to a small town in New Hampshire for a fresh start. Here, he eventually meets a young girl, Abra, who has similar powers as him but is far stronger.
Here's the catch: Abra has caught the eye of members of True Knot, a cult-like group of people who also have "the shining" and prey on young people to enhance their powers and extend their lives. Danny and Abra end up working together -- him, in an attempt to protect her from them -- and eventually end up right back at the Overlook Hotel with the hope that the magic there could help them this time, rather than hurt them.
I won't give too much away, but I will say that if you like thrillers, you NEED to see this movie. Don't get me wrong, I love "The Shining." It's a masterpiece and one of Jack Nicholson's best roles (if not the best). I love everything about it and I will never say that it isn't the better of the two.
But if I could...I would. "Doctor Sleep" takes the magic that was born in Stanley Kubrick's film and enhances it. Brings it to the new age. Adds effects and magic and a company of characters we just didn't get in the first film, since its purpose, at its core, was to be an isolation film. The novel "Doctor Sleep" came out in 2013, which makes it all the more interesting to see how the story had evolved in Stephen King's brain almost 40 years after the first.
My recommendation? Make it a double feature. Watch "The Shining" for its legacy and for young Jack Nicholson and for all the movie references you haven't understood until now because so many originated there. And then put on "Doctor Sleep" and prepare to be in awe.