Perhaps the most underrated film of 2019 is Doctor Sleep. A sequel to horror classic The Shining, the movie follows a now grown-up Danny (Ewan McGregor). While rehabilitating his life, he discovers a young girl with similar telepathic abilities as him and together, they must stop a cult-like group known as the True Knot from hunting people to collect their “steam” and live forever.
The film releases digitally on January 21st and on Blu-ray and 4KUHD on February 4th. Better yet though is that director Mike Flanagan has announced that a 3-hour director’s cut will be included and while speaking with Collider, he teased what to expect, saying:
“[Warner Bros] really let us do this right – it’s a finished, complete, fully polished new cut of the movie. There is new material throughout the whole film. Some of it is brand new stuff that was never included in the theatrical cut, and there’s also a handful of extended (or altered) scenes as well.”
Deliberately vague, sure, but he does provide a little more insight into additional character moments, explaining:
“There are some big new scenes, for sure. I don’t want to spoil any of that, but I can say that there is new material throughout (including in the final act at the Overlook). Some of my favorite stuff involved Young Danny and Wendy (there’s some terrific material with Alex Essoe that I’m thrilled is restored here), and will be familiar to fans of the book. There’s also a fair amount of new stuff involving young Abra in the film’s first act, learning about her shine, and how it affects her parents.”
The challenge for Flanagan is that he’s adapting a Stephen King book of the same name, while also continuing the story of an acclaimed film that apparently deviates from its source material. So, he had to juggle content from two different mediums, combine them into one story, and satisfy fans of both the movie and the Doctor Sleep novel. It turned out that critics liked the film more than audiences, with many feeling that the long runtime (2.5 hours) weighed it down and it also took too long to get to the Overlook Hotel in the third act.
Personally, I loved what Flanagan did. As did a notable filmmaker. He took his time with the material and rather than using the legacy of The Shining as fan service, he teased it while also telling a compelling story about Danny’s troubled life. And by cutting to the True Knot from time-to-time, the plot kept you on your toes. You knew they would eventually get to the Overlook and the build-up was equal parts creepy and dramatic.
Of course, Doctor Sleep did poorly at the box office and adding another 30 minutes to a film that fans felt was already too long to begin with is curious. But for people like me who found it satisfying, why not make it even longer?