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Just How Scary & Violent Is Doctor Sleep?

Doctor Sleep Movie Scary Violent

Doctor Sleep is a sequel to both the book and movie versions of The Shining, so just how scary and violent is the new horror movie? Based on Stephen King's 2013 novel of the same name, the movie has a lot to try and live up to after both King's original novel and the Stanley Kubrick's The Shining movie.

Doctor Sleep follows an adult version of Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) as he struggles to get out of the shadow of his alcoholic father, who tried to murder him and his mother at the haunted Overlook Hotel. When Danny comes across a young girl named Abra with similar psychological powers as him, he has no other choice than to protect her from the soul-sucking cult, The True Knot.

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Related: Doctor Sleep Cast & Character Guide

So how scary is Doctor Sleep? The MPAA has given the new film an R rating (meaning nobody under 17 can see it unsupervised) for "disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use." The BBFC has given it a 15 rating (meaning nobody under 15 will be admitted) for "strong bloody violence, gore, horror, threat, language." With its extensive rating details, how does Doctor Sleep compare to both modern horror movies and its frightening predecessor?

How Scary is Doctor Sleep?

Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep 2019

Doctor Sleep is a slow burn movie that takes its time to establish the mood and dangers of its world. The film starts off dialog-heavy with a couple of familiar frightening images in between, which reflects the overall tone throughout. The opening perfectly reflects the level of scares Doctor Sleep offers up until its climax. Aside from two significant moments, involving a disturbing character with no eyes and a drawn-out abduction, the film is much closer to a spiritual thriller than a scares-per-minute horror movie.

Even during its climactic encounter at the end, Doctor Sleep still isn't all that scary. The disturbing imagery and intense isolation lead to some chills, but there's never a moment that will cause anyone to look away out of fear. What limits the level of scares in the majority of Doctor Sleep is due to the type of character being scary compared to who is getting scared. Doctor Sleep is a different movie to The Shining, and isn't trying to terrify viewers in the same way.

How Gory is Doctor Sleep?

While Doctor Sleep is not that scary of a movie, there are plenty of gory graphic scenes that earns its R rating. Arms are ripped off, people get their souls sucked out of them, and there's a gruesome suicide. The goriest scene involved the abduction and aftermath of a young boy in agony as he's tied to the ground, slowly getting the life ripped from him. Additionally, there is a sudden suicide that hits hard with its impact. These two sequences are where Doctor Sleep delivers on its disturbing imagery to an uncomfortable level.

Related: How Doctor Sleep's Shining Scenes Compare to the Original Movie

Countering the unsettling scene is a triumphant moment where one of the cult members has their arm trapped and has to rip it apart painfully. The imagery is gruesome, but the level of tension is low as the torment is coming from the villain rather than an innocent victim.

The Rest of the Rating: Nudity, Swearing, and Drug Use

The rest of Doctor Sleep's rating involves nudity from the decaying lady in the bathtub, common swearing, and drug and alcohol abuse. As Danny is going to a rehab program, the message on alcoholism is beneficial.

Next: The Shining Ending Explained: Why Jack Is In The Photo

Key Release Dates
  • Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019
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