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Blu-ray Review: Doctor Sleep: Includes Director’s Cut

February 5, 2020

By John Corrado

Serving as both an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 literary sequel to his classic novel The Shining and a direct followup to Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film version of that book, Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep is being released on Blu-ray this week.

Along with the version of the film that was released in theatres last November, the biggest draw of this release is the inclusion of a second disc featuring a new director’s cut of the film, which is almost thirty minutes longer than the 152 minute theatrical cut and runs for a full three hours, offering an even more fleshed out telling of the story.

One of the most notable changes is in the structure of the film, with the director’s cut being divided into six chapters featuring title cards, giving it a more literary feel. A lot of these changes are subtle and all of them feel seamless, with no major alterations to the story itself. The core narrative of the film remains the same, and the added scenes help to complete the interconnecting stories of adult Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor), supernaturally gifted teenager Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), and villainous cult leader Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), with the longer running time actually working to strengthen the connections between these three story threads.

New footage is inserted throughout, with completed visual effects to boot. Flanagan mainly fills out the running time by extending certain preexisting scenes and adding back in a few others. These include a few longer moments involving young Danny (Roger Dale Floyd) and his mother Wendy (Alex Essoe); an extended flashback involving the younger Abra (Dakota Hickman); as well as extensions to some of the scenes at the meticulously recreated Overlook Hotel. The Overlook provides the setting for the finale, a sequence that remains just as satisfying in this new version.

The pacing challenges and a few of the tonal shifts that I addressed in my review of the theatrical cut are also smoothed over in the longer version. While I somewhat ironically described the 152 minute version as feeling a bit bloated, I don’t really have the same complaint about the director’s cut, because the film is allowed to breathe more and the pacing is a little better. I can’t say that my overall reaction to Doctor Sleep was drastically different between the director’s cut and the theatrical version – I enjoyed the film both ways with a few reservations – but the longer version did help assuage some of the minor quibbles that I had about the theatrical cut.

I can certainly see many fans considering the director’s cut to be the definitive version of Flanagan’s film, and I do think it is the smoother and more complete of the two edits. Either way, the inclusion of both cuts instantly ups the value of this release, and makes this a worthwhile Blu-ray set, offering the intriguing opportunity to see the film two different ways and judge for yourself. For more on the film itself, my original review of the theatrical version can be found right here.

The Blu-ray also includes the three very solid featurettes From Shining to Sleep, which features Flanagan and King talking about bringing the author’s work to the screen while also remaining true to Kubrick’s vision; The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision, which serves as a general overview of the production; and Return to the Overlook, which is probably the coolest of the three and focuses on how the production team flawlessly recreated iconic sets from Kubrick’s film.

Doctor Sleep is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. The theatrical version is 152 minutes and rated 14A, and the director’s cut is 180 minutes.

Street Date: February 4th, 2020

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