*Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” starts off slow and creepy. Hey, Stephen, what do you have against kids? The initial gruesome scenes of a boy’s death in “Doctor Sleep” are a downer.
Once you get past those scenes, the movie picks up steam—no pun intended—since the premise is based on “steam” snatching.
There are flashbacks at the Overlook Hotel where Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbry) explains to young Torrance what it means to “shine.” [Scatman Crothers played Hallorann in “The Shining”]
To shine is to have a special supernatural gift. A ghoulish group of menacing monsters’ mission is to extract the shine steam from those who possess it. The fiendish clan True Knot, headed by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), extricates the steam as the victims die so that the demons can gain immortality. The most powerful shiner is the courageous teenager Abra Stone, played by talented newcomer Kyliegh Curran. Stone’s strong extrasensory perception gets wind of shiner Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor). Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra seeks his help against the deadly predator Rose.
Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan picks up the gauntlet. Forming an unlikely alliance, Abra and Dan engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compels Dan to call upon his own powers as never before and faces his fears.
Directed by Mike Flanagan, the supernatural thriller also stars Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Bruce, Greenwood, Jocelin Donahue, Alex Essoe, Cliff Curtis, and Zackary Momoh.
“Last Christmas” could be marketed as a sleep aid, and no offense to the cast. Too bad they didn’t have a feasible script to work with. Neither Emilia Clarke’s “GOT’ dragons, Henry Golding’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” Michelle Yeoh’s “Star Trek: Discovery” combat experience, or George Michael and Wham!’s music can save this one. No doubt “Last Christmas” was aiming at the “Love Actually” holiday appeal and steadfast sustainability. Nor does “Last Christmas” tug at the heart like the 2000 David Duchovy similarly themed movie, “Return to Me” or joggle the senses like “Sixth Sense.”
Kate (Emilia Clarke) is the movie’s major downfall. Her atrocious behavior and diatribe leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those she slights. What’s so disturbing is that she has no clue. By the time Kate has an epiphany, no one cares. Her mother Petra (Emma Thompson) also doesn’t have much to be desired. Petra’s off-colored lesbian jab is not funny, as are most of the so-called jokes.
Although basically living out of her suitcase, Kate would prefer to shack up with just about anyone rather than stay with her parents. Her job as an elf in a year-round London Christmas shop brings her no cheer. When Tom (Henry Golding) comes into Kate’s life one fateful day during the “most wonderful time of the year,” she gets a reprieve on life. But will a tragic turn of events be a boon or burden? No spoilers here.
Directed by Paul Feig, “Last Christmas” also stars Lydia Leonard, Margaret Clunie, Patti LuPone, Ansu Kabia, Boris Isakovic, Michael Addo, and Bilal Zafar.
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