NEW YORK — In crafting the horror sequel “Doctor Sleep” (Warner Bros.), which follows up on the events recounted in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, “The Shining” — based, like its successor, on a novel by Stephen King — writer-director Mike Flanagan takes his time and effectively builds up a macabre mood.
But an unsettling premise and intermittent graphic mayhem make his polished movie appropriate for few.
Danny, now Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor), the psychic little boy of the first picture, has grown up to become a troubled hospice orderly who battles a drinking problem. He’s haunted by the legacy of his father, Jack, who was transformed into a homicidal maniac by the malevolent spirits inhabiting the haunted Colorado hotel where the family lived while Jack was employed as its winter caretaker.
Dan begins to communicate telepathically with Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teen girl with gifts similar to his own. Abra is horrified when she remotely witnesses the murder of clairvoyant little leaguer Bradley Trevor (Jacob Tremblay) by an occult band of wanderers known as the True Knot.
Under the leadership of creepy Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), the True Knot slay kids, like Bradley, and use their life essence to keep themselves young. The more fear and pain their victims experience while dying, the more powerful their essence becomes. So Bradley’s end is a disturbing one to watch.
Dan and Abra unite to combat the True Knot, who are now after Abra. The climactic confrontation between Dan and Rose, like Bradley’s demise, is quite grisly.
While in the grips of alcoholism, Dan is shown waking up after a tawdry one-night stand. And one of the ghosts from that Rocky Mountain hostelry, a decayed elderly lady, haunts bathtubs and is not shy about showing her naked anatomy to the living. Taken together with the abundant bloodletting and a number of F-bombs, these elements suggest a restrictive classification.
The film contains an occult theme, scenes of harsh, gory violence, including the torture of a child, some gruesome sights, drug use, full female nudity in a nonsexual context, off-screen casual sex, at least one profanity, a couple of milder oaths, several rough terms and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.