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The following story contains spoilers for Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining that you really should have seen by now. It’s available on DVD and Blu-ray, and can be streamed on HBO.
Ask anyone who has seen Doctor Sleep, and they will tell you that the film’s most disturbing scene has to be the murder of Baseball Boy, a character played by Room and Good Boys star Jacob Tremblay. It’s a tough scene in Stephen King’s source novel, the turning point that shows just how powerful the True Knot is (or can be). And as difficult as it was to film the sequence, Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan tells us that EDITING it over and over, four hours and days on end, was pure torture.
Mike Flanagan was a guest on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast in order to dive deeper into Doctor Sleep, a movie that is winning over audiences now that it’s on disc and cable streaming. Naturally, we dove deeper into the filming of the Baseball Boy scene, and we will have several in-depth stories in a feature coming to the site soon. But we had to pull out this chestnut on how Katrina and the Waves’ one-hit wonder “Walking on Sunshine” saved Flanagan while he was editing the harrowing scene. Flanagan told us:
I'm not kidding about this, while we were editing it – because you can hear, we were at Warner Brothers in post and we can hear through the walls – there are other movies like Annabel Comes Home was editing next door. And like, there was this two-and-a-half day period where we did the first assembly of that, or I'm going through the raw footage and trying to find everything, and it's just screams. And so we dragged all the audio down, and I would put stuff like ‘Walking On Sunshine’ on really loud. Not only to drown out the screams for the other offices, but because after a few hours of going through the footage, like, I wanted to die. Just on the edit. Like you guys, the viewer gets to endure that scene for, I think all-in, inclusive of the Abra [footage] in the middle of it, the whole thing is for four and a half minutes.
See, you think that a scene is difficult to watch in a horror movie. You almost forget that people had to FILM that scene, and then the director and his team have to endure editing the sequence, which can take days. Naturally, adding a song like “Walking on Sunshine” to the scene would destroy the harrowing tone that Doctor Sleep was establishing (but for real, can someone add the song to the scene for me… I want to see how it plays). But the catchy beat saved Flanagan during his edits.
Still, he argues that the scene is essential, and he isn’t wrong. Flanagan told ReelBlend:
We did maybe a hundred versions of that sequence over the course of post. No scene changed more than that one. And you'll see the artifacts all over it. You never hear him full voice, once the first stab happens. All the audio is pulled back, like he's underwater, and it's drenched in reverb and stylized. And you can hear the True Knot breathing way louder than you can hear him screaming. Like, we did all sorts of things to try to get away from it. There was a certain point, we always knew it was there, where if we backed off too far, the scene … its importance in the movie would no longer be there. And that without it, we didn't have the engine that launched Abra and Dan into the rest of the story and illustrated the stakes for her, what could have happened to her.
We have so much more from Mike Flanagan coming to the site in the coming days, including the full bonus ReelBlend episode. Make sure to keep your eyes on CinemaBlend for that content. And check out Doctor Sleep on HBO if you haven’t yet. The director’s cut of the film is a masterpiece.