Doctor Sleep (2019 film)
Doctor Sleep is a 2019 American horror film based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Stephen King, a sequel to King's 1977 novel The Shining. The film, which also serves as a sequel to the film adaptation of The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is set several decades after the events of the original and combines elements of the 1977 novel as well. Doctor Sleep is written, directed, and edited by Mike Flanagan. It stars Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, a man with psychic abilities who struggles with childhood trauma. Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran (in her feature film debut), and Cliff Curtis have supporting roles.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Flanagan|
|Screenplay by||Mike Flanagan|
|Based on||Doctor Sleep|
by Stephen King
|Music by||The Newton Brothers|
|Edited by||Mike Flanagan|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$69.8 million|
Warner Bros. began developing a film adaptation shortly after Doctor Sleep was published in 2013. Writer-producer Akiva Goldsman wrote a script, but the studio did not secure a budget for the film until the box office success of its 2017 horror film It, also based on a novel by King. Flanagan was hired to rewrite Goldsman's script and direct the film. Flanagan said the film would try and reconcile the differences between The Shining novel and film. Filming began in September 2018 in Georgia, including Atlanta and the surrounding area, and concluded in December 2018.
Warner Bros. released Doctor Sleep in international territories starting October 31, 2019, and in the United States on November 8, 2019. The film received praise from critics for its performances but was criticized for its lengthy runtime. Having grossed only $69 million worldwide, its performance at the box office was considered "surprising" due to the success of recent King adaptations such as It Chapter Two and Pet Sematary.
In 1980, sometime after their traumatic experiences in the haunted Overlook Hotel,[N 1] Danny Torrance and his mother Wendy live in Florida. Danny sees one of the Overlook's ghosts—the rotting woman from Room 237—in his bathroom. Dick Hallorann, a benevolent spirit, explains that the ghosts fed on Danny's psychic ability, his "shining". Now the hotel has been abandoned, the starving ghosts are pursuing Danny. Hallorann teaches him to lock them in imaginary "boxes" in his mind. Meanwhile, the True Knot, a cult of psychic vampires led by Rose the Hat, extend their lifespans by consuming "steam", a psychic essence released as they torture and kill children who have the shining.
In 2011, Danny—now "Dan"—has become an alcoholic to suppress his shining. After stealing money from a single mother following a one-night stand, he realizes he has hit rock bottom. He moves to a small New Hampshire town and befriends Billy Freeman, who finds him an apartment and becomes his AA sponsor. Rehabilitating, Dan becomes a hospice orderly. He uses his shining to comfort dying patients, who nickname him "Doctor Sleep". He also begins receiving telepathic communications from Abra Stone, a young girl whose shining is even more powerful than his. Meanwhile, Rose recruits a teenager, Snakebite Andi, into her cult after observing her ability to psychically control people.
In 2019, the True Knot are starving. They abduct a young boy, Bradley, and brutally torture him to death to extract his steam. 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. Realizing the danger, Abra visits Dan in person and tells him she can track the cult if she touches Bradley's baseball glove. Dan refuses to help, telling her to suppress her shining to stay safe. That night, Rose projects her consciousness across the country and infiltrates Abra's mind, but finds that Abra has set an imaginary trap, which injures Rose. After cult member Grandpa Flick dies of starvation, Rose sends the remaining members after Abra.
Hallorann visits Dan a final time, telling him to protect Abra as Hallorann once protected him. Dan tells Billy about the True Knot. They travel to the murder scene and exhume Bradley's body to retrieve his glove. They recruit Abra's father, Dave, and have him guard Abra's body as she projects herself to a local campsite, luring the cult there. Dan and Billy shoot most of them dead, though a dying Andi compels Billy into suicide.
However Rose's lover, Crow Daddy, kills Dave and abducts Abra, drugging her to suppress her shining. Dan contacts Abra, who lets him possess her and manipulate Crow into crashing his car, killing him and freeing Abra. While Dan and Abra reunite, Rose consumes the cult's remaining stockpile of steam, healing her wounds and vowing revenge. As a last resort, Dan brings Abra to the Overlook, believing it will be as dangerous for Rose as it is for them. He starts the hotel's boiler and explores the dormant building, "awakening" it with his shining. He revisits the rooms where his alcoholic father Jack, influenced by the Overlook, attempted to murder him and Wendy. At the hotel bar, Dan is greeted by The Bartender, a ghost who has Jack's face but calls himself Lloyd. Dan tells him that Wendy died when he was twenty—that Dan could not comfort her because he saw flies covering her face—and is upset when The Bartender is unmoved. He offers Dan whiskey, calling alcohol the "medicine" a man needs to endure raising his family. Dan declines.
Rose arrives. Dan and Abra pull her consciousness into Dan's mind, which resembles the Overlook's hedge maze. Dan tries to trap her in an imaginary box, but fails. Rose, attracted by Dan's shining, invites him to join the cult, but he refuses. When she overpowers him and begins consuming his steam, Dan opens the boxes, releasing the Overlook's hungry ghosts. They kill Rose, consume her steam, then possess Dan. He and the ghosts pursue Abra to Room 237. She tells the hotel that Dan sabotaged the boiler. Dan, regaining momentary control, tells her to flee. Possessed, he rushes to the boiler, but regains control before the hotel can make him deactivate it. Fire engulfs the room. Dan has a vision in which he is a child being embraced by Wendy. Outside, Abra watches helplessly as the hotel burns down. A fire brigade and police approaches.
In Abra's bedroom, Dan tells her to embrace her shining so that she can continue standing against forces like the True Knot. When Abra's grieving mother calls her to dinner, Dan vanishes. Abra comforts her, assuring her that there is an afterlife, and that Dan and Dave are well. On the way downstairs, Abra sees the ghost from Room 237 in her bathroom, and goes to lock her up as Dan once did.
- Ewan McGregor as Dan Torrance, an alcoholic man with psychic powers known as "the shining". The character first appeared as a child in the film The Shining, played by Danny Lloyd. Roger Dale Floyd plays a young Danny Torrance.
- Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, head of the True Knot, a cult that feeds on children with psychic powers.
- Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone, a girl with "the shining". Dakota Hickman plays a young Abra Stone.
- Cliff Curtis as Billy Freeman, Dan's friend, co-worker, and AA sponsor.
- Carl Lumbly as Dick Hallorann, the former cook of the Overlook Hotel who has "the shining". Dick was played by Scatman Crothers in The Shining.
- Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy, Rose the Hat's lover and right-hand man.
- Emily Alyn Lind as Snakebite Andi, a member of the True Knot.
- Bruce Greenwood as Dr. John Dalton, leader of Dan's AA group and his boss at the hospice.
- Jocelin Donahue as Lucy Stone, Abra's mother.
- Alex Essoe as Wendy Torrance, Dan's mother. Wendy was played by Shelley Duvall in The Shining.
- Zackary Momoh as Dave Stone, Abra's father.
- Jacob Tremblay as Bradley Trevor, a victim of the True Knot, known to Abra as the "baseball boy".
- Henry Thomas as The Bartender, an apparition who calls himself Lloyd but has the face of Dan's father, Jack Torrance. Thomas also portrays Jack briefly in flashback scenes. In The Shining, Jack Torrance was portrayed by Jack Nicholson and the bartender Lloyd was portrayed by Joe Turkel.
Additionally, Carel Struycken appears as Grandpa Flick, Robert Longstreet as Barry the Chunk, Catherine Parker as Silent Sarey, Met Clark as Short Eddie, and Selena Anduze as Apron Annie; all members of the True Knot cult. Sadie and KK Heim portray the Grady sisters, with Kaitlyn McCormick and Molly Jackson providing their voices; the characters were originally played by Lisa and Louise Burns in The Shining.
Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance in The Shining, makes a cameo appearance as Mr. Trevor, a spectator at Bradley Trevor's baseball game. Lloyd had been retired from acting for roughly 38 years, and was direct-messaged on Twitter by Flanagan to appear in the film. Producer Trevor Macy said of Lloyd's involvement, "[Lloyd] was excited to do [the cameo]. He hadn't acted since [the original]. He's a schoolteacher, and a very successful one at that, like making the world better. He came back for a day, and we were thrilled to have him." When pressed as to why the filmmakers did not extend the same offer to Jack Nicholson, Macy responded, "With Jack, I knew that they approached him for Ready Player One, and that he seems to be very serious about being retired. I had known that he was supportive [of the sequel] but retired."
Regarding the recast characters, Flanagan explained, "We explored everything, and there were only really two options as I saw it: It was either going to be something that was performed, or something that was digital. And even if we had Nicholson come back, based on the rules of the hotel and how the ghosts appear with respect to their age, he'd be performing the part through a digital avatar." Flanagan said that de-aging and digital actors, while improving rapidly, were still inadequate. "The idea of having a digital Danny Torrance riding a trike five minutes into the movie, that just seemed like we were making a video game at that point. It felt disrespectful." Noting that any solution would be controversial, the director decided that the best approach "was not to do impressions; it was to find actors who would remind us of those iconic performances, without ever tipping into parody... I just want to be able to tilt people's memories toward those original actors, but then let the characters be their own. I want to cast someone to play Dick Hallorann; I don't want to cast someone to play Scatman Crothers." The idea of casting a Nicholson impersonator as Jack was also considered, as was casting a big-name actor associated with or reminiscent of Nicholson, such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Christian Slater. Nicholson was also invited to make a cameo appearance as another character, but declined.
Connections to The Shining novel and filmEdit
Doctor Sleep is based on the 2013 horror novel of the same name by Stephen King. The 1977 novel was adapted into a 1980 horror film of the same name 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 still "acknowledge[s] Kubrick's The Shining in some way". Flanagan said, "It is an adaptation of the novel Doctor Sleep, which is Stephen King's sequel to his novel, The Shining. But this also exists very much in the same cinematic universe that Kubrick established in his adaptation of The Shining." He explained working with all the sources, "Reconciling those three, at times very different, sources has been kind of the most challenging and thrilling part of this creatively for us." He first read the novel, and then had a conversation with King to work out adapting all the sources. As part of the process, Flanagan recreated scenes from The Shining to use in flashbacks. He also avoided the horror film trope of jump scares as The Shining did.
Warner Bros. Pictures began developing a film adaptation of Doctor Sleep as early as 2014. In 2016, filmmaker Akiva Goldsman announced that he would write and produce the film for Warner Bros. For several years, Warner Bros. could not secure a budget for Doctor Sleep, or for a different project, a prequel to The Shining called Overlook Hotel. In late 2017, Warner Bros. released It, a film adaptation of King's 1986 novel of the same name, and its box office success led the studio to fast track production of Doctor Sleep. In January 2018, Warner Bros. hired Mike Flanagan to rewrite Goldsman's script and direct the film, with Goldsman receiving executive producer credit. On why he was interested in directing Doctor Sleep, Flanagan stated, "It touches on themes that are the most attractive to me, which are childhood trauma leading into adulthood, addiction, the breakdown of a family, and the after effects, decades later." From June to November 2018, the cast was assembled.
Filming began in September 2018 in the U.S. state of Georgia; locations included Atlanta and St. Simons. In the area of Atlanta, specific locations included Covington, Canton, Stone Mountain, Midtown, Porterdale, and Fayetteville. Production concluded in December 2018. By January 2019, Flanagan was editing the film.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2019)
Author Stephen King said he wrote Doctor Sleep because he wondered what Danny Torrance would be like as an adult. Flanagan has stated, "Danny is so traumatized by what he's been through, he has no idea how to deal with this," and McGregor added, "Dan Torrance's philosophy early on in the story is not to use the shining. He's drunk to suppress the horrible visitations, the spirits that are from the Overlook Hotel."
Warner Bros. Pictures released Doctor Sleep theatrically in the United States and Canada on November 8, 2019. They opened the film globally earlier, October 31, 2019, coinciding with Halloween. The film was initially scheduled to be released on January 24, 2020. Deadline Hollywood said the rescheduling reflected Warner Bros. giving "a major vote of confidence" in the film.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Last Christmas, Midway, and Playing with Fire, and was initially projected to gross $25–30 million from 3,855 theaters in its opening weekend. BoxOffice wrote, "Early social and trailer trends are indicative of a potential box office hit should reviews and audience reception prove favorable," but added, "Doctor Sleep's primary barrier to breakout status could be how reliant it is on younger audience familiarity with the source Stephen King novels and/or The Shining." The film made $5.2 million on its first day, including a combined $1.5 million from advanced preview screenings on October 30 and Thursday night previews on November 7, lowering weekend projections to $12 million. It ended up debuting to $14.1 million, getting upset by Midway for the top spot. Deadline Hollywood speculated that despite it being "well-reviewed and well-received" by critics and audiences, the underperformance was due to the 21⁄2-hour runtime, as well as the perception the film was meant for older audiences (67% of the opening weekend attendance was over the age of 24). Following its debut, it was projected the film would lose Warner Bros. around $20 million. In its second weekend the film made $6.2 million, dropping to sixth.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2019)
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "certified fresh" approval rating of 77% based on 292 reviews, with an average rating of 7.01/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Doctor Sleep forsakes the elemental terror of its predecessor for a more contemplative sequel that balances poignant themes against spine-tingling chills." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 60 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average four out of five stars, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it to a friend.
Prior to the film's release, Warner Bros. had enough confidence in the film that they hired Flanagan to script a sequel with the working title Hallorann, focusing on the character of Dick Hallorann. Following the disappointing box-office performance of Doctor Sleep, the future of the project is unclear.
Flanagan also confirmed that he was interested in directing a film focused on Abra Stone, and that he had asked King, who was open to the idea.
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It's no secret that King himself was critical of the 1980 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of his novel The Shining – so much so that he wrote and produced a new adaptation in the form of a TV miniseries in 1997.
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In 2013, King published a 'Shining' sequel 'Dr. Sleep', which Warners is also trying to get off the ground.
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