If you’ve ever wondered what happened to young Danny Torrance after he and his mother survived their terrifying, snow-bound ordeal at the Overlook Hotel, forced to dodge the crippling cold of the Colorado Rockies, the whims of vicious ghosts, and the psychotically unpredictable ax-swing of alcoholic patriarch Jack Torrance, Mike Flanagan’s new film Doctor Sleep is here to deliver a few answers.

Some things, you might have guessed—the alcoholism, for example. Based on Stephen King’s 2013 sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleepposits that the long aftermath of murderous trauma, to say nothing of a life beset with mysterious psychic gifts, is necessarily riddled with struggle. Danny (Ewan McGregor), now middle-aged, is a drifter: violent, desperate, fighting an ongoing battle with addiction, his is a life lived in the shadow of his father’s demons. And of Danny’s own dark secrets: the ghouls from the Overlook which, through the guidance of a spectral old friend, he has to learn over time to compartmentalize into psychological lock boxes, or else those spirits, ever attracted to the hot, white light of the boy’s powers, might continue to haunt him.

Doctor Sleep tracks Danny eight years into his recovery, when he’s posted up in New Hampshire and, thanks to a friend and fellow recovering addict, found a job as an orderly in an elderly home. There, among patients who will all pass on sooner rather than later, he’s nicknamed “Doctor Sleep,” for the comfort he brings people as they’re passing on. He still has some of that shine, as he once called it, but he mostly represses it—until.

Doctor Sleep is a horror movie, but what’s immediately striking is its sudden breadth, it’s humble resistance to the usual perils and thrills of blockbuster. It’s refreshing. This is a story that feels larger than it is, in part because this story takes the shine and does something with it, reveals it for the tenuous, impermanent, vulnerable force that it is. There’s a 15-year-old girl named Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), for example, who also shines—more powerfully than probably anyone else—and whose powers eventually prove necessary to protect.

And then there’s the True Knots, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). They shine too, but they also consume the shine of others, which extends their life spans—at least for as long as they can keep up the hunt. They’re beholden to the shine, in other words; they need it. Perhaps one of the most telling details in Flanagan’s movie is the way they consume it: crowding around the bodies of their young victims like junkie vampires, torturing their prey bit by bit to spook the shine out, then slurping it up—shine, exhaled from the body, is called steam—in thrillingly huge gulps. It’s a little freaky, maybe even a little fun, verging as it does on the macabre mix of bloodlust and club drug eroticism.

Flanagan, aided by King’s text, gives these three strands a lot of room to breathe. He’s lately made a name for himself as an effective director of horror for adults, films that cut down on the kitsch without leaning into prestige to feel overly serious. It works. Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and, most recently, two well-regarded Netflix projects—The Haunting of Hill House, based on Shirley Jackson’s classic novel, and Gerald’s Game, another King adaptation—all share a pleasant maturity, though maybe they often come off at times like the oldest child, the “adult” in the room.

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