This fall, audiences have already been treated to one new film adaptation of a Stephen King novel, IT CHAPTER TWO. Now, we're about to get a second, DOCTOR SLEEP. In the event that you have not read the novel upon which this new movie is based, you might not know what to expect from the film. We are here to help!
First things first: The novel, "Doctor Sleep," released in 2013, is a sequel to the author’s 1977 novel "The Shining." Even if you haven't read the book, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen the classic 1980 horror film THE SHINING, directed by Stanley Kubrick. With that as a starting point, we've compiled a handy overview to everything you need to know about DOCTOR SLEEP, including its great cast and awesome filmmaker, and how it’s connected to THE SHINING.
Before we go any further, check out the most recent trailer for the SHINING sequel. The latest DOCTOR SLEEP trailer has a lot of attention-getting and mysterious moments. We'll explain it all — or at least enough to give you the outline of the story, without spoiling anything.
[Image Credit: Warner Bros.]
Quick history lesson! "The Shining" was Stephen King’s third novel, and his second to become a film, after CARRIE. The story followed the Torrance family: Jack, his wife Wendy, and their troubled son Danny. The boy has developed a psychic ability that no one understands. Struggling to write a novel and overcome his alcoholism and anger issues, Jack takes a seasonal job as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Wendy and Danny join him and almost immediately encounter hotel chef Dick Hallorann. Dick is able to give a name to Danny’s psychic ability, because he has it, too. He calls it the Shining.
At the Overlook, the Torrance family experiences increasingly terrifying paranormal activity, as Jack succumbs to the ancient evil lurking within the hotel. "The Shining" is ultimately a sad, harrowing story about addiction and abuse, and one of King's best novels.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film changes a few things. It focuses mostly on Jack (played by Jack Nicholson) and glosses over the alcohol and physical abuse that were prominent in King’s book. In DOCTOR SLEEP, the Overlook has been closed for many years, but, as Dan says in the trailer, "the things that live there… they come back."
[Image Credit: Warner Bros.]
In "Doctor Sleep," young Danny Torrance is grown up, and he's got some problems. The 2013 novel picks up a few decades after the events of THE SHINING. Dan has received a nice cash settlement from the Overlook hotel for his troubles and has become an alcoholic with anger issues, like his dad. He drinks in part to smother the ghosts that intrude on his consciousness, thanks to his psychic powers.
In a quest to overcome his addiction, Danny settles down in New Hampshire, where he works at a hospice and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Without drink to smother it, Danny’s Shining returns. He uses his psychic ability to help elderly and sick patients make the transition from life to death. Hence the nickname, “Doctor Sleep.”
Check out the video below for a quick overview of the character as he exists when DOCTOR SLEEP begins.
In the film, the adult Dan is played by Ewan McGregor, who is well-known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three STAR WARS prequels, and for his breakout starring role in Danny Boyle's TRAINSPOTTING. As the trailer and many past performances show, McGregor has just the right haunted look to play a man who still sees Redrum scrawled on walls in his dreams — or is that real life?
Even years later, Danny is still haunted by the ghosts of the Overlook and the lingering effects of his powers. The main focus of the story is Danny’s psychic connection to Abra, a young woman who is hunted by a group of quasi-immortals known as the True Knot. This group seeks out people with the Shining, in order to feed on their powers. Danny and Abra undertake a dangerous road trip to escape the True Knot.
[Image Credit: Warner Bros.]
Director Mike Flanagan won the task of bringing this THE SHINING sequel to life. His film pays tribute to both the 1977 book and the 1980 movie. For instance, Jacob Tremblay (THE BOOK OF HENRY) will appear in the film as the young version of Danny, in scenes that replicate Kubrick’s version of the Overlook hotel.
That recreation should be really interesting, especially since we've already seen the Overlook partially recreated in Steven Spielberg's film, READY PLAYER ONE. But don’t let those scenes distract you from a compelling film that honors King’s original story, and the poignant way he handled alcoholism and abuse.
There’s no modern filmmaker better-equipped to make a Stephen King movie than Flanagan. He previously directed one of the better adaptations of a King novel, GERALD’S GAME, and did great work with the series "The Haunting of Hill House," both for Netflix. In addition, Flanagan has the rare Stephen King seal of approval — something not even Kubrick could say. He can even make a simple message like "mornin'" seem pretty terrifying.
Several exciting actors join Ewan McGregor on this supernatural journey. Newcomer Kyliegh Curran plays Abra, the young girl who has a very special connection to Danny. Rebecca Ferguson (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT) plays Rose the Hat, the main antagonist and the leader of the True Knot. She's one of the most intriguing aspects of the story, as Ferguson is a powerful actor, and Rose the Hat seems like the worst combination of determined and slightly demented.
"Westworld" and "Fargo" breakout Zahn McClarnon plays Rose’s right-hand man, Crow Daddy. The film also stars Carl Lumbly ("Supergirl") as former Overlook chef Dick Hallorann; Emily Alyn Lind ("Revenge") as Snakebite Andi, a young member of the True Knot; and Alex Essoe (STARRY EYES) as Wendy Torrance, along with Bruce Greenwood and Cliff Curtis in supporting roles.
All images courtesy of Warner Bros.