In 2013, Stephen King published Doctor Sleep, the direct sequel to his beloved 1977 novel The Shining. Just six years later, that tale is getting the cinematic treatment under the direction of Mike Flanagan, who already has some King adaptation experience under his belt with Gerald’s Game. The Shining could have easily remained a standalone tale, but while speaking about the upcoming Doctor Sleep movie, King explained that the reason he penned a follow-up was because he wanted to check in on how Danny Torrance was doing after all these years. As King put it:
I always wondered what happened to Danny when he grew up and I felt that I had a story to tell… One of the things I wanted to see was a man at the end of his rope. You can’t really recover until you finally reach your bottom, and I wanted to see that in Dan on the screen.
Danny Torrance was just a boy during the events of The Shining, and while those events unfolded somewhat differently in the 1980 movie compared to the original book, either way, they were understandably traumatizing to him. Seeing your dad become psychotic and violent at a desolate hotel would be bad enough, but then throw in all the supernatural phenomenon that you suddenly become aware of, and that’s bound to change anyone, regardless of age.
As Mike Flanagan lays out in the Doctor Sleep promo video from Warner Bros where Stephen King delivered the above comment, ‘the shining’ is the ability to affect the physical world with their thoughts, and because Danny Torrance was traumatized, he has no idea “how to deal” with this ability. Ewan McGregor, who plays Danny, notes that his character is determined not to use ‘the shining’ early into Doctor Sleep, resulting in him being frequently drunk to suppress the spirits of the Overlook Hotel from visiting him.
This struggle was more than enough reason for Stephen King to follow up on Danny Torrance, as we can watch him hit rock bottom and see him begin to truly heal as he struggles through a new round of supernatural craziness. In this story, Danny crosses paths with a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran), who has her own similar psychic power. Unfortunately, she’s also the target of The True Knot, a group led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who are determined to use the powers of Abra and others like her in their quest for immortality.
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of differences between The Shining book and the film adaptation, but for the Doctor Sleep movie, Mike Flanagan found a way to blend elements from both to fit seamlessly into the big screen version of Doctor Sleep. And for those wondering who haven’t read the Doctor Sleep book, yes, the Overlook Hotel will be revisited. Carl Lumbly was even cast to play Dick Halloran, the character previously played by Scatsman Crothers.
We’re still a little ways off from learning how the Doctor Sleep will be received critically, but recent estimates placed it at making somewhere between $20-$30 million on opening weekend. The R-rated sequel is also one of the last horror movies of 2019, though there plenty that can still be caught in theaters now.
Doctor Sleep opens in theaters on November 8, and don’t forget to look through our 2019 release schedule to learn when the rest of this year’s movies are coming out.