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‘Doctor Sleep’ Draws Connections To Kubrick’s Classic ‘The Shining’

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Horror flick Doctor Sleep is the follow up to the Stanley Kubrick horror film The Shinning. With The Shinning gracing theaters in 1980, the sequel is being released almost 40 years later. While Doctor Sleep is seemingly a completely different sort of film than Kubrik’s original, there is plenty of strong connections to the ’80s classic. 

Doctor Sleep Features An Adult Danny Torrance

The first and perhaps most obvious connection to The Shinning is through the movie’s lead character. Doctor Sleep has several story arcs but they all revolve around Danny Torrance. While the earlier film features Danny as a child at the Overlook Hotel, the later of the two follows a much older version of the character played by Ewan McGregor. The 2019 movie shows what happened after Jack Torrance, played by Academy Award Winner Jack Nicholson, went insane and nearly slaughtered Wendy his wife and Danny his son. 

The film continues to make callbacks to Kubrick’s work by drawing visual and behavioral connections between Danny and his parents. One of the first similarities we see comes in the bad habit Danny has picked up. In the first act of Doctor Sleep, we see Danny is what appears to be a full-blown alcoholic. The Shinning was a bit more subtle when showing Jack drinking, but it became clear after multiple trips to the gold room bar that Jack may have had a booze problem. 

Some other strong visual links come towards the third act of the film when Danny finds his way back into the overlook hotel. Besides the obvious recreations of shots such as the winding path to the hotel, shots of Danny walking around the ruins of the overlook and multiple appearances of the iconic “redrum” written on the walls; the keen-eyed audience may pick up a few subtle Easter eggs. There is a scene where Danny is on the steps of what was his dad Jack’s makeshift office at the overlook. He is fighting off the antagonist of the film Rose The Hat. This scene is eerily similar to a climactic scene in The Shining where Wendy is trying to keep an apparently insane Jack away from her.

More Familiar Faces And Places Return

Danny isn’t the only character in Doctor Sleep that had a part in The Shinning. Dick Hollorann, despite meeting his demise at the hand of Jack in the 1980 film, plays a decent-sized role in Doctor Sleep

Dick Hollorann was the first person to inform Danny of his psychic powers, otherwise known as his ability to “shine”. This short scene in The Shining is essentially the beginning of the plot that is Doctor Sleep.  While Kubrick’s film doesn’t get very far into the supernatural themes of Stephen King’s novel, Doctor Sleep in comparison feels almost like a sci-fi flick. At the very start of the 2019 movie, we see that the psychic connection between Danny and Dick allows them to communicate despite Dick no longer being alive. Dick’s role in the film is to help Danny get rid of the demons from the overlook that persistently haunt him. Dick also chimes in during the later stages of the film as a sort of guardian angel watching over Danny.

The last connection the two films share is probably not much of a surprise to anyone who has read thus far. The overlook hotel is a key component in both narratives. The Kubrick film takes place almost exclusively at the ominous location, and while Doctor Sleep spends much of its time outside of the labyrinth-like halls of the hotel it does ultimately conclude at the overlook. Not only is the setting the same but many of the ghosts that haunt the halls of the building make a return. Including, but not limited too, the naked decaying women from room 237.

Doctor Sleep undeniably takes a few cues from its predecessor and any fan of the original should consider giving the 2019 sequel a watch. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan, who was behind the Netflix Originals The Haunting Of Hill House and Geralds Game. Flanagan has for the most part done a great job of using both the King books and the Kubrick film to create a sequel that feels both original and inspired.

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