- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mike Flanagan, creator of “The Haunting of Hill House,” offers a supernatural-tinged adaptation of author Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining,” which arrives as an extended as well as ultra-high definition version for home theater owners in Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 152 minutes, $44.95).

After the events of the haunted Overlook Hotel, that had found Danny Torrance’s father going mad and dead while attempting to kill his son and wife, the psychic-sensitive young Danny had issues, to say the least.

Thus begins a very long cinematic journey that explores an adult Danny (Ewan McGregor), now a reformed alcoholic, still struggling to come to grips with his frightening childhood, creepy intuitions, the control of his “shining” psychic powers and navigating through a gantlet of ghostly nightmares.

An enticing plot thread has a cult of psychic vampires called the True Knot, led by alluring Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), feeding to survive on shining-strong children by torturing their essence, called steam, out of them.

The group’s hunting and killings are by far the most terrifying moments of the movie as well as most satisfying as Danny and new young shine-powerful friend Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) confronts the cult and eventually end up in a final battle at the Overlook Hotel.

This slow-simmering drama of one man’s grip on supernatural madness and his redemption offers one of Mr. McGregor’s finest performances to date and mixes some of the best elements of Mr. King’s novel with a reverential treatment to the late Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic adaptation.

Of course, it’s impossible to compare Mr. Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” to Kubrick’s 1980 version of “The Shining.” I went into watching the film not expecting much but was surprisingly entranced by the end result.

The highly recommended director’s cut also turns the movie into a three-hour marathon but well worth it for fans of the book as well as lovers of Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

4K in action: Warner Bros. offers an impossible choice for viewers of the film. They can either watch the director’s cut, which adds roughly 30 minutes to the film on the included high definition Blu-ray disc, or watch the theatrical cut on the UHD 4K disc.

Of course, owners would want to watch the missing 4K director’s cut, especially when considering the theatrical version delivers a pure 2160p, screen-busting visual presentation. It’s actually culled from a 4K digital intermediate and offers the best possible version of the film to experience in a home theater setting.

Although the subject material translates into warmer color schemes sometimes bordering on sepia (tones, the detail captured via the Arri Alexa 65 digital cameras during the shoot combined with special effects is often horrifically lifelike especially when watching the True Knot in action or during any of their deaths.

Despite that 2160p versus 1080p disc conundrum, Warner Bros. does include a code to watch the illusive director’s cut in 4K via the Movies Anywhere digital-streaming service.

However that becomes prohibitive for viewers with a less-than-speedy internet connection or a smart TV and also makes it a slightly maddening purchase for disc purists.

Best extras: In an unusual move, all of the bonus content resides on the 4K disc with nothing extra on the Blu-ray, usually the reverse with most release.

Unfortunately, it’s still not much stuff for fans with only three production featurettes available clocking in at roughly 35 minutes in total.

Each offers time with Mr. King and Mr. Flanagan sitting together for interviews while the final segment, the best of the trio, covers the work involved in revisiting the Overlook Hotel, bringing Jack Torrance back and recreating all of its creepy inhabitants.

After watching all of the featurettes highlighting the obvious camaraderie between the director and legendary author, it would have been amazing if the two had sat down for an optional commentary track. Oh well, maybe on a future anniversary edition release.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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