Why “Doctor Sleep” Is Superior To “It” Remake
Villains you love to hate, a morally sound heroine and a wounded hero makes for a compelling mix.
Dan Torrance is a tortured individual growing up (if you’ve seen Kubrick’s “The Shining” you certainly understand why) and retreats into drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain of what transpired at the Overlook Hotel.
He is older; worn and exhausted, but fighting to find his way back to some semblance of normalcy. As he sobers his abilities become stronger and he learns to use those abilities to help others, easing the fears dying senior citizens have, who dub him “Doctor Sleep”. While we don’t share his particular gifts, we can relate to addiction and searching for where we belong and what our purpose is in this world.
Abra Stone is a child with an immense amount of ability or “shine”. She is strong, seemingly everything that Dan might’ve been. She is assertive, determined and passionate and is strong enough to combat the main villain, Rose the Hat, in most of their encounters. She doesn’t shrink from doing what is right even if it endangers her life. You cheer for her as she fights, especially when Rose the Hat tries to sneak into her mind while she’s asleep. Before Abra and Dan even meet, they feel connected and we are invested in their friendship.
The Loser’s Club has a shallowness to their friendship and for the most part, not enough screen time is given to each child for us to feel a connection to them beyond the fact that they are kids. As adults, it didn’t feel like childhood friends reuniting, but strangers trying to get to know each other on the set of a film for the first time.
If there’s one thing that can destroy a horror film it’s blatant special effects seeping into the film. Fortunately, “Doctor Sleep” doesn’t overdo this. Their villains are rooted in people, human beings who want an extended go round on this ride of life and are willing to kill children, tortuously, to achieve this.
The True Knot is a nomadic group, who survive by devouring the “shine” of people with abilities. There is little given about the history of this group, but one thing is certain based on Rose the Hat’s dialogue to one of her fallen, if they’ve “cheered gladiators in Rome” their lifespan is increased from feasting on “shine”.
There is a relatability to this group as well. After all, many people say they wouldn’t compromise their morals until confronted with the option. They all, because of what they are, must now kill to survive. We see this in a naked light with their newest edition, Snakebite Andi, who is given a simple choice by Rose the Hat; she can be killed by them or she can become one of them. In all likelihood this was probably a choice all of them were faced with when they joined The True Knot. This also adds to the story as The True Knot are the opposite of Abra Stone. They will do what is necessary to survive while Abra will do what is right regardless.
Rose the Hat is the matriarch — yes! — of this collection of individuals who eat the steam or “shine” that people with extraordinary abilities (ESP, mind control, etc.) possess. They opt for children with these abilities, seemingly a conscious choice based in part that their ability hasn’t been polluted. After all, when we’re young and cared for there is a robustness to what we experience, everything is an adventure; a curiosity. Another reason is that, naturally, a child is easier to overpower, even with extra abilities.
Not only is a female villain in horror that is both vicious and in charge rare, but Rose the Hat is leagues better than Pennywise the Clown. Rose can hide what she is. Rose the Hat is strikingly beautiful and, combined with her charm, can easily lure someone close; she’s that enchanting. That is until her eyes glow and chilling terror freezes you.
Pennywise on the other hand is suspect at first glance. No one, adult or child, with an ounce of sense would approach that clown for a balloon, a chat, cotton candy or any other temptation he could drum up, unless of course you’re already deathly afraid of clowns. Both characters devour and feed on fear and suffering, but only one of them, Pennywise, looks like they do.
Special Effects were drenched in “It: Chapter Two” and every time, like seeing Ed Sheeran on “Game of Thrones”, it pulls you out of the world created. Are these world’s real? Of course not, but suspension of disbelief is what allows us to fully immerse ourselves in a film. When a creature is so clearly special effects and not a person, it pulls us out of the world. The effects in “Doctor Sleep” were used to enhance the world.
“Doctor Sleep” is superior to “It” in story, character and effects and may well become included in top 10 lists of best Stephen King horror films.