Quick Reviews: 'Doctor Sleep', 'I Lost My Body' | 'The Shining' Sequel, Mike Flanagan, Fantasy Drama
After finishing watching Doctor Sleep, it was baffling to me that this ended up being the horror film that bombed at the box office in 2019. This has the right ingredients, the right amount of creepiness and its own flavour when it comes to Stephen King adaptations. It doesn’t ride the coattails of Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining', instead Mike Flanagan’s vision does show here. Even though I heard complaints about its theatrical runtime, for this review I did watch the 3-hour director’s cut.
The level of horror elements in this one hits the sweet spot, especially considering the increasing absurdity in sound design that has been a plague for the horror genre lately. Doctor Sleep doesn’t underestimate the viewer, opting to signal the chill-factor with well-executed camera pans and letting your eyes find the frights instead of blasting them through your skull. Ewan McGregor (as Danny) and Kyliegh Curran (Abra) bring a surprisingly dynamic duo on to the screen with each doing a great performance and even carrying their own individual scenes. All the scenes at the Overlook Hotel pay a great homage to The Shining while also using it as an important piece in moving the plot.
The film stumbles somewhat in its build-up to a big ending. It’s also where the runtime gets to you, as instead of a slow rise, the tension randomly goes up and down for much of the middle third. This makes a lot of scenes seem like a drag and wanting you to take a bathroom break as nothing significant is happening. There seem to also be a bit of miscasting going on when it comes to side characters. Emily Alyn Lind and Zahn McClarnon seem to constantly lose their respective characters in the scenes, being in particular noticeable whenever McGregor is there.
Smileys: Atmosphere, Kyliegh Curran, Ewan McGregor, sound mixing
Doctor Sleep won’t put you to sleep despite the length, it’s a fine adaptation.
[Note: This review is for the director's cut.]
I LOST MY BODY
I Lost My Body (originally titled J’ai perdu mon corps in French) from director and co-writer Jérémy Clapin is quite a trip, especially if you’re like me and know nothing about what it’s actually about. The 80-or-so minutes of runtime is split between following a severed hand and following a young man named Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris). What it entails is a melancholic and beautifully animated story, however a bit stuck in its own aesthetic.
A real highlight here is Dan Levy’s graceful score which fills much of the space—and there’s a lot of space—between the minimalistic dialogue. Without it, on paper it might be strange just to hear the steps of a walking hand. The music does its job perfectly, mid-tempo synth swellings accent the somewhat slow pace of the movie while also hitting the emotional moments with enough elegance. The animation is gorgeous to look at, using a rich colour palette to differentiate itself from the bunch.
With this much artistry on the canvas, it often isn’t matched quite as well by the text and material. That’s also the case here as much of the stalker-y love story is filled with subpar dialogue and gives nothing to the viewer in regards to the severed hand situation. There is a big chance that you find yourself more out of the film than immersed in it, thinking about the two different sides of this French coin. I Lost My Body doesn’t hit the homerun as it leaves something to desire about the script and voice acting.
Smileys: Score, colouring, runtime
Frowneys: Dialogue, voice acting
With a perfect runtime, it flies by both in good and bad.