Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Doctor Sleep’

Sequel to ‘The Shining’ is less Stephen King and more an homage to Stanley Kubrick

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/8/19

They killed a kid — not just haul him off-screen to so something unseen and unspeakable. No, they showed his terror, and the blood, and the torture.

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Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Doctor Sleep’

Sequel to ‘The Shining’ is less Stephen King and more an homage to Stanley Kubrick

Posted

They killed a kid — not just haul him off-screen to so something unseen and unspeakable. No, they showed his terror, and the blood, and the torture. Then, later, they show his face uncovered in the sad shallow grave dug for him.

It made me sick, watching it, wanting it to end. But it went on until he died.

One of the things for which horror author Stephen King has received much praise is his courage to go where other writers fear to tread. Some may lead the reader to the precipice of something unsavory or psychically damaging, even dangerously transgressive, and then allow propriety to save them from tipping over. Not King. He will push. No, make that, shove.

Another thing he gets a lot of praise over is, obviously, his ability to catalogue our fears. He knows what scares us. He knows the triggers that will touch off the reader’s long-buried anxieties, shake them out in their faces and then proceed to grind them into their lovingly toasted bag of brains.

That’s why he’s so famous.

But fear in the hands of a skilled writer can be tricky. Fear isn’t just a word to play with like a sneering bully with a switchblade. That’s probably why it’s been so hard to adapt his work for the screen. A film director only sees visuals, a way to capture an impression or an approximation of that the writer is trying to convey. That was kind of the challenge for writer-director Mike Flanagan (“Haunting of Hill House”) in translating King’s “Doctor Sleep,” his sequel to “The Shining.”

Spoiler alert: If you read the book, you know The Overlook Hotel was destroyed at the end. And, in “Doctor Sleep,” it is but a ruin.

But, to Flanagan, director Stanley Kubrick had a footprint as big as a house. The esteemed filmmaker established a set of visuals with his 1980 adaptation (which King famously hated) that simply could not be ignored. He was right. The Overlook at the end of Kubrick’s “The Shining” still stood and the horrors inside were imprinted in popular culture as much as Marion Crane’s shower curtain in “Psycho” or Dr. Hannibal Lecktor’s mask in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Even the approach through the mountains was pure Kubrick, including that iconic synthesizer music by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. Surprisingly, at least according to a recent Esquire article, King was okay with this blend.

The story focuses on the adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor), who didn’t do so well after he and his mom, Wendy (played here by Alex Essoe), escaped from the Overlook. That’s mostly because the demonic presence followed him, drawn by his “shine” — a psychic ability that allowed him to communicate wordlessly with others who had that talent — which threatened to drive him insane. To cope, he found a way to put them into boxes in the deepest recesses of his mind. When he was older, he also drank to dull his shine.

In the meantime, a group of nomads known as The True Knot led by a woman called Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) travel the country in search of people who shine. So, they can kill them and steal their essence, which appears like a mist exhaled as a dying breath. That’s what they did to the aforementioned kid. Granted, it’s a very effective method to show how ruthless and inhumane these people are, but, like I said, this kind of fear-trigger is over-the-top and is something you, dear viewer, should know about before plunking down your cash for a ticket.

In the movie, there is a second protagonist, a teenage girl named Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) who shines very brightly. She has been in contact telepathically with Dan, who has taken a job as an orderly at a hospital for terminally ill patients. At his job, Dan has a way with patients because of his ability, especially when they are on the verge of passing over. He even acquires a nickname for this: Doctor Sleep.

Dan has also taken the pledge and so his shine also gets stronger. Both he and Abra now become known to The True Knot, and now they are after them.

“Doctor Sleep” is actually a very good adaptation of a King novel, even with the tweaks. The acting is first rate, especially McGregor and Ferguson, plus Zahn McClarnon as Rose’s associate Crow Daddy. You might remember him as Mathias from the New Mexico-shot “Longmire” TV series. I would recommend it but for that one thing I mentioned above. That was a tough one.

Tempo grade: C

“Doctor Sleep” is rated R violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Last Christmas

MPAA rating: PG-13 for language and sexual content.

Mitchell Storyteller 7

In this romantic comedy from director Paul Feig (“Bridemaids”), a woman named Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop.

Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate's barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart ... and you gotta have faith.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Midway

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking.

Mitchell Storyteller 7

In this war drama from “Independence Day” director Roland Emmerich, the Battle of Midway is depicted as a clash between the American Naval fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The film, based on the real-life events, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome enormous odds. It stars Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, and Aaron Eckhart.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Playing with Fire

MPAA rating: PG for rude humor, some suggestive material and mild peril.

Mitchell Storyteller 7

When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of expert firefighters (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane) come to the rescue of three siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater) in the path of an encroaching wildfire, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet — babysitters.

Unable to locate the children's parents, the firefighters have their lives, jobs and even their fire depot turned upside down and quickly learn that kids, much like fires, are wild and unpredictable.

Directed by Andy Fickman, known for directing several episodes of “Kevin Can Wait.”

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The Portal

MPAA rating: Not rated

Taos Community Auditorium

What would happen if seven billion people all meditated? Could it shift the trajectory of our planet? This documentary by director Jacqui Fifer is described as an immersive, cinematic experience that answers the question: How can we really change the world?

Featuring real stories filmed in a Syrian refugee camp, the USA, Canada and Australia, this captivating and heart-opening film, creates a unique, cinematic experience that juxtaposes chaos and calm to provoke a shift in the audience's emotional and physiological state. Regularly breaking the fourth wall, and using immersive sound and visuals, the audience is invited to gradually slip into a meditative state, experience their own metamorphosis, and discover what is possible for humanity if seven billion people pass through the portal.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 10) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Nov. 11-13) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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