Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA/United Kingdom, 2019. Warner Bros., Intrepid Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment. Screenplay by Mike Flanagan, based on the novel by Stephen King. Cinematography by Michael Filmognari. Produced by Jon Berg, Trevor Macy. Music by The Newton Brothers. Production Design by Maher Ahmad, Patricio M. Farrell. Costume Design by Terry Anderson. Film Editing by Mike Flanagan.
Decades after the events of The Shining left him fatherless and more than a little shaken, Danny Torrance is now grown-up Dan (Ewan McGregor), handsome and alcoholic and on the run from his bad habits. He lands in a small east coast town where a kindly new friend (Cliff Curtis) takes him under his wing, accompanying him to AA meetings and setting him up with a job which, eight years later, sees him living a healthier life, the only bit of strangeness still left over from his past being the occasional visit of a mysterious psychic friend who leaves messages on the chalk board in his rented room. A supernatural Manson Family has been traveling the country for years, seeming to never age and bent on killing children and stealing their “steam”, the misty emotion that emits from their bodies when they are tortured and murdered and which feeds their youth and longevity. Newcomer Kyliegh Curran is excellent as a young woman who becomes the bad guys’ prime target when her phenomenal psychic powers become known to them, which then pulls Dan into her orbit and finds the two of them joining forces to rid the world of these evildoers once and for all. Although billed as a sequel to both Stephen King’s original book and Stanley Kubrick’s milestone film, this one is really just a pale retread of story elements from other King novels with a conclusion at the Overlook Hotel disingenuously tacked on. An obsession with lingo (stop saying “steam”!) and gadgets (if I have to see that canister one more time) is aggravated by an excessive running time, too many characters, and far too much set-up for the payoff that it provides. It’s fun to have a villain (played by Rebecca Ferguson) who is formidably cruel but also reminds one that much of Stevie Nicks, but nothing mysterious or interesting from the first film is unlocked or answered here and there’s none of its sense of style, you’re just watching bits of Firestarter, It, Dreamcatcher, Hearts In Atlantis and The Stand being randomly threaded into a narrative that can barely be held together by Mike Flanagan’s weak and unimaginative direction. Flanagan’s only bold move that pays off is his choosing to hire new actors to play the figures of the past (with Henry Thomas doing a terrific Jack) that is so much more effective than if he’d gone the route of putting CGI faces on body doubles; otherwise there’s nothing to make this one as being particularly worthy of your time.