Doctor Sleep is a horror film based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Stephen King. Ewan McGregor stars as Danny Torrance, the son of The Shining protagonist Jack Torrance. Danny has psychic powers and struggles with alcoholism.
The film is written and directed by Mike Flanagan. The film premiered in most countries on October 31, 2019, and it premiered in the U.S. on November 8, 2019.
Years following the events of "The Shining", a now-adult Dan Torrence meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.
In 1980, sometime after escaping the Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance and his mother Wendy live in Florida. Scarred by his experiences at the hotel, Danny is haunted by one of its ghosts—the rotting woman of Room 237. Through the Shining, he is taught by the ghost of Dick Hallorann to lock such ghosts in imaginary "boxes" in his mind. Meanwhile, a cult of quasi-immortals known as The True Knot, led by Rose the Hat, feed on "steam" produced by the dying moments of people with the Shining ability to slow their aging. She recruits a teenage girl called Snakebite Andi into the cult after observing her ability to telepathically control people.
In 2011, Danny (now going by "Dan") is still traumatized by his time at the Overlook Hotel, and has become an alcoholic to suppress his Shining. He moves to a small town and befriends Billy Freeman, who gets him a job and becomes his AA sponsor. Dan begins to rehabilitate and soon finds a job at a hospice where he uses his Shine abilities to comfort dying patients, who give him the nickname "Doctor Sleep". He also begins receiving telepathic communications from Abra Stone, a young girl whose Shining is even more powerful than his.
In 2019, the True Knot are starving. They abduct a young boy named Bradley and torture him to death to extract as much steam as they can. A teenage Abra senses the event, and her distress alerts both Dan and Rose. Rose sets her sights on Abra, planning to extract her steam to sustain the cult. Realizing that Rose is after her, Abra visits Dan, who insists that she stay away and avoid drawing attention to herself. That night Rose astral-projects into Abra's mind, but is stunned when the girl manages to trap her and briefly enters Rose's mind. Wounded, Rose returns to her body and sends the True Knot to capture Abra.
Dan is visited by the ghost of Halloran, who instructs him to protect Abra. Abra tells Dan what happened with Rose and says she can track the cult if she can touch Bradley's baseball glove. Dan tells Billy about the Shining, and they travel to the murder scene and exhume Bradley's body to retrieve his glove. They then go to Abra's house, where they recruit her father Dave and devise a plan. Using an astral projection of Abra as bait, Dan and Billy lure the cult members out and shoot most of them dead, though Snakebite Andi telepathically manipulates Billy into killing himself before dying.
Rose's lover, Crow Daddy, kills Dave and abducts Abra, drugging her to suppress her shine. Dan communicates with Abra, who allows him to possess her temporarily and force Crow Daddy to crash his car, killing him and freeing Abra. While Dan and Abra reunite, Rose consumes the cult's stockpile of steam, healing her wounds and vowing revenge for their deaths. Dan decides to return to the abandoned Overlook, believing it will be as dangerous for Rose as it is for him and Abra. He starts up the hotel's boiler and explores the building, "awakening" it in the process. Dan revisits the rooms where his father Jack, influenced by the Overlook, attempted to murder him and Wendy. At the hotel bar, Dan is offered alcohol by a bartender who strongly resembles Jack.
Once Rose arrives at the hotel, Dan and Abra confront her by pulling her into the astral plane, in the form of the Overlook's hedge maze. After a failed attempt to trap her in one of the boxes, Dan instructs Abra to flee before being overpowered by Rose. As she drains his steam, Dan releases the Overlook's ghosts from his boxes, who proceed to surround and kill Rose.
However, the ghosts possess Dan, who begins to hunt for Abra. When she manages to momentarily free him, he tells her to flee the hotel. Struggling with possession, Dan returns to the boiler room, which becomes engulfed in flames. In his last moment, Dan sees a vision of himself as a child being embraced by Wendy. Abra watches helplessly as the hotel burns down, killing Dan and the rampaging ghosts.
Sometime later, Abra talks to the ghost of Dan and he tells her that he is at peace. Abra's mother Lucy learns to adjust with her daughter's powers, especially in communicating with the spirit of her deceased husband. Abra is confronted by the ghost of the rotting woman from the Overlook and turns to face her, just as Danny once did.
- Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, a man with psychic powers known as "the shining". The character first appeared as a child in the 1980 film The Shining, played by Danny Lloyd.
- Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, head of The True Knot, a cult that feeds on children with psychic powers.
- Cliff Curtis as Billy Freeman , a friend of Dan's.
- Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone, a girl with "the Shining".
- Bruce Greenwood as Dr. John Dalton, the Stone family's doctor
- Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy, Rose the Hat's right-hand man
- Emily Alyn Lind as Snakebite Andi, a member of the True Knot
- Carl Lumbly as Dick Hallorann, the former cook from the Overlook Hotel who has "the shining". Dick was originally played by Scatman Crothers in The Shining.
- Alex Essoe as Wendy Torrance, Danny's mother. Wendy was originally played by Shelley Duvall in The Shining.
- Henry Thomas as Jack Torrance, Danny's father. Jack was originally played by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
- Jocelin Donahue as Lucy Stone, Abra's mother.
- Jacob Tremblay as Bradley Trevor, a victim of The True Knot.
- Zackary Momoh as David Stone, Abra's father.
Connection to The Shining novel and film
Doctor Sleep is based on the 2013 novel of the same name. Doctor Sleep is a sequel to King's 1977 novel The Shining. The 1977 novel was adapted into a film by director Stanley Kubrick. King was critical of Kubrick's film adaptation to the point of writing and executive-producing a new adaptation with the 1997 television miniseries. While the film Doctor Sleep is intended to be a direct adaptation of the 2013 sequel novel, director Mike Flanagan said Doctor Sleep would still "acknowledge Kubrick's The Shining in some way".
Warner Bros. Pictures began developing a film adaptation shortly after the novel was published, as early as 2014. In 2016, Akiva Goldsman announced that he would write and produce the film for Warner Bros. Warner Bros. could not secure funding forDoctor Sleep until the financial success of 2017's It: Chapter One. The success of It: Chapter One caused Warner Bros. to fast-track the production of Doctor Sleep. Mike Flanagan was hired by Warner Bros. in January 2018 to rewrite Goldsman's script and to also direct the film.
Filming began in September 2018 in the US state of Georgia; locations included Atlanta and St. Simons. In the area of Atlanta, specific locations included Covington, Canton, Stone Mountain, Midtown Atlanta, Porterdale, and Fayetteville. Production concluded in December 2018.
The film score wass composed by The Newton Brothers (Andy Grush and Taylor Stewart), who also composed scores for Flanagan's previous works.
Most elements from The Shining (1980) were recreated with duplicate sets and lookalike actors, though three shots were reused: the aerial shot of the water and the island and the two shots after it of the car driving on the mountain road. The shots were degrained, recolored as day-for-night, and had snow digitally added.
Actress Rebecca Ferguson revealed in a 2019 interview that, while horror in general is not one of her favorite movie genres, she is a huge fan of the novels by Stephen King: "I don't see why we wouldn't want to make films out of everything that he writes. It's so adaptable. It's so understandable. It's so relatable and the imagery, it's like you don't really have to make scene images anymore, you just have the book." She also added that although she doesn't like violence directed at children, she happily made an exception for this film.
Warner Bros. Pictures plans to release Doctor Sleep in theaters in the United States on November 8, 2019. It was initially scheduled to be released on January 24, 2020. Deadline Hollywood said the re-scheduling reflected Warner Bros. giving "a major vote of confidence" to the film.
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