Today was "Flu Shot Day" at work. I got it for years, then stopped because I so rarely get sick, then started again when my doctor said "Tens of thousands of people die each year from the flu, but you do you." Physically, the shots never bother me. I used to get three allergy shots a year for decades. It's the psychological game that does me in. It's like I can FEEL those tiny amounts of weakened flu strain viruses whooshing into my arm... along with my body going "Oh shit!" and creating antibodies to battle it out. I can't really, of course, but that's my imagination for you. Creating a horror narrative where none exist.
And speaking of a horror narrative...
As I think I've mentioned a few times, I have "themed" months for the movies I watch. October, of course, is devoted to horror films. It's not my preferred genre, to be sure, but there are gems to be had. Last night I finally got around to watching Doctor Sleep. And since HBO had the extended "Director's Cut" available, that's the one I went with...
I liked it. I liked it a lot.
It's light on genuine frights, but has some truly disturbing moments. One of the moments is so disturbing that I question how they even managed to film it. Acting is acting, but some things are just too "out-there" even when you're pretending.
Doctor Sleep is Stephen King's follow-up to The Shining. The sequel book was excellent, and very much worthy of the original novel. Even as a King fan, I find some of his books miss the mark for me, but this was definitely not one of them. It continues the story of Danny Torrance, now all grown up, after what he went through at the Overlook Hotel. Some of the beats are predictable (Danny is using drugs and alcohol to dull his "gifts") but there are still some good surprises to be had. Along the way he is contacted by Abra, a young girl with shining powers that eclipse his own. There's also a spooky group of villains in "The True Knot" who hunt people with the shining so they can torture them, kill them, and extract their power as life-extending "steam."
King infamously hated the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation of The Shining. I was disappointed in the changed that were made, but found Jack Nicholson's performance more than made up for it. This was one of those rare instances where I liked both the book and the movie... but for different reasons.
The Doctor Sleep film is kinda strange in that it's not a direct sequel to the movie, though it definitely takes its cues from there. It's also not a true adaptation of the book. It pays homage to both and I think is better because of it. Suffice to say that fans of both will find things to love and to not love so much.
The best part of the film is the casting. Ewan McGregor as Danny is flawless. He has an amazing knack for being able to draw on the haunted narrative that his character demands, and I don't know that many other actors could have done as good a job of it. They also struck gold with Kyliegh Curran as Abra, a critical role that would have ruined the movie if they cast somebody up to the task. But the real standout to me was Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She completely nailed the role. You walk away from the film hating her. In a good way...
There wasn't a minute she was on screen where I wasn't wanting her dead.
I think the movie is approachable even if you didn't read/see The Shining. Though, of course, you'll get a little more out of it if you've seen the Kubrick film). If you're looking something to watch to get in the Halloween spirit, this is worth a look (and see the Director's Cut, if you can find it... HBO Max has it as an "extra").
And now, if you'll excuse me, the battle for flu virus supremacy continues in my bloodstream. I was told this year that they are giving out higher doses, so I guess we'll see. It's 2020, after all.