WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Sleep, in theaters now.
Doctor Sleep has one of Stephen King's scariest villains ever portrayed on the big screen in Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). As the witch leads her minions, supernatural vampires known as the True Knot, across America to consume the steam or magical essences of folks with the Shining abilities, she sets her sights on the all-powerful telepath Abra (Kyliegh Curran). However, Abra's more than she can handle, which leads to the teen setting a diabolical trap for a prying Rose. Sadly, as brilliant as the trap is, it's also not used well by the movie.
After sensing Abra's existence, Rose has the Knot moving full-speed ahead to her home. She first discovers Abra while they're feeding on a young baseball player's mind-control steam, and later when Rose tries to make a mental connection to Abra at a supermarket, Abra kicks Rose out her mind and down the aisle, literally. Rose is astonished as she's never felt such raw power before, and she begins scrying to find Abra as she did manage to leave a mark on her mind.
But the hunter is actually the hunted, and we soon come to see Rose is the one being tracked in the film's best sequence. When Rose projects her spirit across the night sky and into Abra's room, the girl's cuddled up fast asleep, allowing Rose to dig through cabinets -- mental constructs holding Abra's memories and secrets. The witch is looking for details that'll help weaken Abra's resolve, but suddenly the cabinet clamps down on Rose and she can't move. Her hand is being crushed and she soon realizes it's a bait and switch, as Abra lured her in, all so she could transport into Rose's mind where the villain's secrets are locked away in a cathedral. Abra quickly scours through and gets the witch's secrets, all while Rose's skin is being peeled off to the point her bones are showing.
When Abra attains her desired items, Rose's astral form is kicked back once more to her body 1,500 miles away, causing her to fall off her trailer with her hand actually damaged in the real world. That's how strong Abra is. The sequence also proves Abra is smart, as she concocts a scheme that dupes the experienced vampire in a bloody fashion. It's a remarkable ploy allowing Abra to infiltrate through the backdoor and, with half the movie left, we're eager to see what she uncovered from the cathedral. But it's never revealed.
Abra never uses any of the secrets making the entire sequence a total waste of time. Rose's cult panics over Abra for the rest of the film and we're anticipating Abra using something she learned when the Knot and Rose come hunting for her and Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor). But instead, the livid Rose never has her deep, dark secrets exposed. The heist gets totally forgotten, all as plot convenience to depower Rose and to actually have Danny jump to the forefront as the main weapon against the Knot.
This creates room for Danny and his friend Billy (Cliff Curtis) to gun down most of the Knot using rifles in the woods and, later, astral project into Abra to kill Rose's right-hand man, the Crow (Zahn McClarnon). This will also lead to the Overlook and the ghosts Danny locked away from inside there to be used as the deus ex machina against the vengeful witch. It would have been cool to see Abra using some knowledge to connect to these key fights, maybe levelling up her allies or finding Rose's weaknesses, but instead Danny does all this as some sort of savior. This nullifies what Abra does with her theft and takes away a lot of steam, no pun intended, from her overall purpose which was to stand as the counterpoint to the centuries-old Rose.
Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Alex Essoe and Zahn McClarnon. The film is now playing everywhere.