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Doctor Sleep: everything we know so far about the Shining sequel


It's been almost 40 years since Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror movie The Shining, adapted from Stephen King’s novel, showed us the chilling consequences of "all work and no play" – and this year we get the next chapter in the story.

Doctor Sleep, adapted from King’s follow-up book of the same name, follows the earlier film’s Danny Torrance, now an adult played by Ewan McGregor, as he grapples with his personal demons and psychic powers.

With plenty of nods to the film and of course the source material, we run down everything you need to know about Doctor Sleep...

Danny Torrance is back

Danny (portrayed by young Danny Lloyd in The Shining) survived the horrifying events that unfurled at the sinister Overlook Hotel, in which his father was overtaken by murderous – possibly supernaturally-induced – madness. And Doctor Sleep delves further into the mystery and sees Danny revisit some of those terrifying memories.

Living alone, and with his old invisible friend Tony his only source of companionship, Danny finds the past coming back to haunt him as he discovers that he perhaps isn’t as alone as he thought…

We’ll learn more about 'the shine'

Explored somewhat obliquely in Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, 'the shine' refers to the strange telepathic powers that Danny possesses. In the first movie, this was made apparent during the kitchen conversation between him and fellow ‘shiner’ Halloran (Scatman Crothers).

In Doctor Sleep, the older Danny meets a young girl who appears to have powers even stronger than his own, which puts both of them in the path of a dangerous cult. Known as ‘The True Knot’, and headed up by Rebecca Ferguson’s terrifying Rose the Hat, these deadly individuals seek the powers of those who shine to fuel their immortality.

'The shine' is one of the most mysterious aspects of author Stephen King’s lore, and this sequel will uncover even more of those secrets.

It is heavily influenced by the movie version of The Shining

The trailer certainly made no secret of the fact that Doctor Sleep, while predominantly an adaptation of King’s novel, will also be heavily influenced by the film which preceded it.

With painstaking detail, Doctor Sleep recreates some of the most iconic moments from The Shining, to the point where it is almost hard to tell the new scenes from the original. The trailer features some nods to the spine-tingling score as well as those iconic visuals, making it clear that it will attempt to honour The Shining’s legacy.

It is the first big screen Stephen King sequel

Although IT: Chapter 2 will be floating onto cinema screens this September, that is technically the second part of Stephen King’s epic 1000-plus page novel. Therefore, Doctor Sleep’s screen adaptation marks the first (official) time a Stephen King sequel has been adapted into movie form.

King famously didn’t like Kubrick’s treatment of The Shining, and in writing Doctor Sleep he actively and purposely changed all the deviations that The Shining had made from his original book. Director Mike Flanagan had to sit King down and explain his reasoning for borrowing some of those visuals from the film that King had loathed so much.

Given the resulting trailer, it would seem those conversations went better than expected – but it remains to be seen whether King will be happier this time around. He has already endorsed the film on Twitter, so fingers crossed the end result will be worthy of admiration.

Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance in Shining sequel Doctor Sleep

It's directed by an accomplished horror film-maker

He’s perhaps not a household name, but for horror aficionados director Mike Flanagan’s previous body of work means he is more than qualified to take the reins on this huge project. 

Flanagan built a reputation off the back of chillers Absentia and Oculus, the latter of which starred Karen Gillan in the terrifying story of a haunted mirror. Most recently, Flanagan adapted Shirley Jackson’s horror masterpiece The Haunting of Hill House into a critically acclaimed Netflix TV series, and he directed another Stephen King novel adaptation, Gerald’s Game; a story many had previously described as "unfilmable".

Flanagan was able to work his magic however, and this confirms for King’s legions of fans that Doctor Sleep is in the right hands.

Doctor Sleep is released on 31st October, so tweet us @Cineworld if you think it will honour the legacy of The Shining.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.