‘Doctor Sleep’ on HBO: How ‘The Shining’ Sequel Connects the Book and Film
In case you didn’t know: Yes, Stephen King wrote a sequel to The Shining, and yes, it was made into a movie. It’s called Doctor Sleep, and it’s airing on HBO this Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.
Directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Gerald’s Game) Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor as Danny “Dan” Torrance, aka the little kid from The Shining. (“Danny’s not here right now, Mrs. Torrance.”) The first scene in Doctor Sleep finds us where director Stanely Kubrick left viewers back in 1980, not long after Danny and his mom were traumatized in the Overlook Hotel. We see Dick, the head cook of the hotel who is now a ghost (played in the original by Scatman Crothers, now played by Carl Lumbly) explains to Danny that he has a psychic ability called his “shining,” that ghosts feed off of. Dick, a nice ghost, teaches Danny how to lock the ghosts in imaginary boxes in his mind. You know, classic Stephen King trauma metaphors.
Then we flash forward to 2011, where Danny is all grown up, and an alcoholic, thanks to the fact that he’s haunted by these psychic demons. He learns how to use his shining to comfort dying patients, which is how he earns the nickname Doctor Sleep. I won’t spoil what happens next, but, eventually, Danny does end up back at the Overlook Hotel. There even three shots from Kubrick’s The Shining used in the film—”the shot of the island in the canyon, and the two shots after the car going up the canyon road,” according to an interview Flanagan gave to ScreenRant.
If you’re thinking, “Huh, that sounds a lot more complicated and a lot more ghost-y than I remember The Shining movie being,” you’d be right. King hasn’t hidden his displeasure with Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, which scaled back the supernatural details significantly. In fact, the author disliked it so much, he made his own 1997 miniseries adaptation of the novel. Then King wrote a 2013 sequel to his novel, aka Doctor Sleep. The film version of Doctor Sleep—which opened in theaters last fall to mostly positive reviews—essentially bridges the gap between the book universe and movie universe of The Shining. So don’t worry: Even if you’ve never read either book, you’ll still be able to appreciate Doctor Sleep. You probably do want to make sure you watch The Shining first, though. Luckily, that’s easy to do—you can buy or rent a digital copy wherever you buy or rent films.