Doctor Sleep (4K Blu-ray Review)

As we all know, Doctor Sleep is the continued story of Danny Torrance, the tortured son of Jack in The Shining.  We are following him on his own journey into the madness. What overtook his father once has lived in him for the last 40 years. There was a time when Danny couldn’t fight those frightening images. He was afraid to face those who tried to steal his shine. We learned a little bit about The Shining from Dick Halloran in the first film, but here, we get further in-depth on the subject. Just like this review! Look for far more on The Shining via Doctor Sleep, in stores this Tuesday.



Dan (Ewan McGregor) is a tortured soul. After escaping The Overlook Hotel with his mother, they flee to Florida in hopes of no snow, and no more horror.  Dan initially is having horrible nightmares about the things he saw at the hotel —  Be it the naked old woman, The Grady Twins, or even his father chasing his mother with an ax.  Those images haunt him every day. When Mr. Halloran (played by Carl Lumbly here) comes back to Shine with him about facing those fears, Dan is given refuge for those terrors in creating a space in his mind for them to go.  He faces those demons and puts them far away, locked in his mind to torture him no longer.

Flash forward to 2011. Dan is following, willingly or unwillingly down the path his father once took.  He is homeless, a drunk, and a careless man.  He blacks out, does drugs, and sleeps with women for a place to stay.  Upon one drunken night, he wakes sick and hung over and finds Halloran waiting for him in the apartment of his latest conquest. They chat briefly with Halloran convincing Dan not to rob the woman and then Dan leaves to go rest under an overpass. He wakes with more purpose, not having seen Dick in a long time, and being reminded of his gift, being able to Shine. He hitches a ride to New Hampshire, unsure of why he is going there. This is also when we get our first glimpse of Abra, a young girl with the same gift as Dan. She can see him via The Shining and communicates with him via the Chalkboard wall that is in Dan’s studio apartment.  They keep a conversation going for years.

All of this has happened without me making mention of Rose The Hat (Rebecca Ferguson.)  Rose is the leader of a cult who have found that stealing a person’s Shine (or Steam as they call it) lets them live long, nearly immortal lives.  The Top Knot cult consists of many sick individuals. One, Grandpa Flick is apparently so old he has seen empires fall, wars, and centuries go by. The Hat has the ability to seek out children who can shine and leads them across America to seek those children out, steal their Steam and then kill them.  Her loyal followers all have nicknames of the Mad Max variety —  Barry The Chunk, Crow Daddy, Snakebite Andi, Silent Sarey, etc.

Flash forward again to 2019. Dan is in his 40’s, living in New Hampshire and has been in recovery for his alcoholism. He works as an orderly in a hospice and uses his Shining gift to help those who are approaching their final moments to find their Shine and to leave the living world peacefully.  He is shown the recovery road by Billy (Cliff Curtis, again showing what a versatile actor he is) who helped him find a job, work and his AA group when he arrived in town.  Dan still talks to Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who is now a teenager. She has been trying her hardest to keep her clairvoyance a secret. It scares her parents and alienates her from her classmates.  Abra has been feeling some disturbances and is shocked to discover another kid with her gift has been murdered.  She contacts Dan with this news, and then eventually meet and work to find The Top Knot cult and attempt to stop them.

The film is not as complicated as the what is written here. Everything is laid out for a viewer to figure out fairly quickly.  With some neat stunt casting for Dick and Wendy, we are given scenes that follow the events in The Shining and give us a chance to see their family surviving after such terrible moments could’ve destroyed them.  Dan using his Shining techniques for good was a nice choice as well.  Abra uses her gift to help also, and it’s very refreshing to see that even young, Abra is tough.  She is unafraid of Rose The Hat or her cult followers and her fearlessness often aides her in her ability to survive.  Rose The Hat herself is a creep of the ruthless variety. She looks like a hippy and is murderous like she’s a member of the Firefly family in Rob Zombie’s famous film trilogy.  Dan is always on the brink of something too.  He isn’t scared, but he is at first reluctant to reveal his Shine. When he finally does, he uses it to his advantage and gives us one of the most satisfying scenes in the film.

Doctor Sleep is overall quite enjoyable.  I expected a little bit more seeing as the film is 2 and a half hours. The movie does drag in parts and some moments are left, at least for me, a little bit ambiguous. The film does score for me on a nostalgic level.  When Dan is in the office of the AA group leader, it mirrors the Overlook’s office almost identically.  When we see moments flashing back to the original film, they seem to be lovingly recreated and that is highly satisfying. The production design is wonderful overall and the performances are all great, even the smaller ones.

If you love The Shining, keep your expectations slightly lowered for this film. It isn’t meant to be viewed as an immediate follow up, and is stylistically in the same wheelhouse, but is director Mike Flannigan’s love letter to the classic original.  There are few issues compared to what could’ve been and I recommend this one overall as it is a very strong story continuation.  Pacing issues and a few unfinished points aside, I see myself revisiting this one again and discovering new things to like about it.  Also, I have yet to see the director’s cut which will probably show me some of the things I missed this first viewing.  Give this one a shot!


  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Aspect Ratio: 85:1
  • HDR: HDR 10+, Dolby Vision, HDR 10
  • Clarity/Detail: Filmed at 6.5K and gifted to us with a 4K DI, this film is a gorgeously detailed presentation. Right away, in an outdoor scene, we see so much detail in the campground.  The detail comes through in further scenes, indoors and outdoors, making it so you can see even the smallest of items. Room details, mind details and outdoor details are lovingly recreated on this disc.  There is a stylistic choice to use smoke or steam in many scenes, but this doesn’t lead to too much softness.
  • Depth: This is a very strong presentation depth wise as well. There are no “shallow” moments from scene to scene, with each set piece leading you to an immersive watch overall. In particular, the scenes where Rose The Hat, Dan or Abra move into each other’s head space you are treated to a fully immersing view. As if you’re in a maze with them and you’re moving with them in those spaces.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are consistent, dark and there is no crush evident. There are moments where steam comes into play to make those blacks a little lighter, but it’s a stylistic choice.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are vivid despite the predominantly dark color palette. There is a tendency to go dark, but the reintroduction of the carpets at The Overlook have a pop to them.  The daytime scenes are also quite nice with a warm hue to them.  Interior scenes lend themselves to a darker look, but not to a point where you’re unable to see.  There are a few shots that are a little “too” dark, but it seems intentional as to keep us from realizing what we’re looking at is some pretty heavy CGI.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and perfectly lifelike.
  • Noise/Artifacts: None to report.


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos – TrueHD core, French, English and Spanish Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: The mix for Doctor Sleep is of course one that is atmospheric. Using modern sonics to create creepy moments, the sound design is all over in the best of ways. The surrounds, sound effects and bass response all deliver. There are never moments where you don’t have sound helping move the story along.
  • Height: The height channels are used for moments involving Shining, and when we do return to places from the past, the height channels are used creatively. The sound of the strings in the score also live in those height speakers. Also, flyover moments, and random moments of outdoor atmosphere deliver up top as well.
  • Low Frequency Extension: LFE is presented with love here. The bass tells a story of its own.  Borrowing from the original score of The Shining with the thumps of the music delivering moments of Shining, we also get bass response in moments of action too.  This isn’t a demo-style presentation but each note of LFE is deep and helps immerse the viewer into The Shining world.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The surrounds are used nearly constantly. Sounds move around the entire film and are all a part of the atmosphere. This is where the mix is reference grade. Surround sound places you everywhere Dan, Abra or Rose The Hat may be in the film.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: To quote a famous skin care commercial, dialogue is “clean, clear and under-control!” 😊


Doctor Sleep comes to 4K Blu-ray combined with a Blu-ray (that houses the director’s cut, that is glaringly missing from the 4K disc and available also in 4K via the digital code… Physical fans aren’t giving into your digital games, Warner Brothers!) and a glossy slipcover. Special Features are included on the 4K disc (!) and are as follows:

  • From Shining to Sleep (4:56): Features Director Mike Flannigan and Stephen King talking about the continuation of The Shining story and finding ways to stay faithful to the novel version of Sleep and Kubrick’s vision of The Shining.
  • The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision (13:57): An EPK with Flanagan and King with Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson, and others speak about the creation of the film, continuing Dan’s story and more.
  • Return to the Overlook (14:59): Another piece to The Making Of, with more on the Hotel, Flanagan’s first experiences with The Shining, production design, effects, a set tour and more.


Doctor Sleep never really reaches the heights of Kubrick’s The Shining. This was obviously going to happen. The movie on its own is incredibly layered, dark, majestic and thoroughly entertaining. Ewan McGregor delivers as Dan Torrance and Kyliegh Curran presents herself as a new actress with a very bright future.  Mike Flanagan proves himself to be a competent filmmaker branching out of his Netflix comfort zone. I hope the film finds itself a great audience and that Shining purists (myself included) can appreciate this new vision and story continuation.  Recommended!

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