Doctor Sleep (2019 film)
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||$54.2 million|
Doctor Sleep is a 2019 American psychological 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, following up the 1980 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.
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, and it has grossed $54 million worldwide.
In 1980, sometime after escaping the Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance and his mother Wendy live in Florida. Scarred by his experiences, Danny is haunted by one of its ghosts—the rotting woman of Room 217. Through "the shining", the ghost of Dick Hallorann teaches him to lock such ghosts in imaginary "boxes" in his mind. Meanwhile, a cult of quasi-immortal psychic vampires known as the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat, feed on "steam", a psychic essence produced in the dying moments of people with the shining ability, to slow their aging.
In 2011, Danny (now going by "Dan") is still traumatized by his time at the Overlook and has become an alcoholic to suppress his shining. He moves to a small town in New Hampshire 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 there is a cat who goes to patients who are dying. Danny uses his shining 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. Meanwhile, Rose recruits a teenager named "Snakebite Andi" into her cult after observing her ability to telepathically control people.
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 and says she can track the cult if she can touch Bradley's baseball glove, but Dan insists that she stay away and avoid drawing attention to herself. That night, Rose enters her astral form and successfully enters Abra's mind. However, Abra easily retaliates by entering Rose's mind and injuring her hand. Wounded, Rose returns to her body and sends the True Knot to capture Abra.
The cat leads Dan to an empty room where he has another visit from Hallorann, who instructs him to protect Abra. 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 to a local campsite and shoot most of them dead, although Snakebite Andi telepathically manipulates Billy into killing himself before she dies.
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 remaining 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 whiskey by the ghost of his father Jack, who presents himself as a bartender named "Lloyd". They both discuss what drives a person to alcoholism, the "ghosts" of the past and troubles of the present, while alcohol becomes "the medicine". Lloyd insists Dan take the drink, but he refuses.
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 and enters his mind, Dan releases the Overlook's ghosts from his boxes who 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 his mother Wendy. Abra watches helplessly as the hotel burns down.
Sometime later, Abra talks to Dan's spirit, assuring each other they will both be okay, before he disappears. Abra's mother Lucy adjusts to her daughter's powers, including a communication from the spirit of her deceased husband. Abra is confronted by the ghost of the rotting woman from the Overlook and prepares to lock her up just as Danny 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 Jack Torrance: Dan's father, whose apparition presents himself as "Lloyd" when Danny goes to the Overlook Hotel. The apparition offers Dan some alcohol, in a similar situation that Jack had with a ghost named Lloyd during the events of the previous film. Thomas also portrays Jack briefly in flashback scenes. Jack was portrayed in The Shining by Jack Nicholson; meanwhile 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."
Connections to The Shining novel and film
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 an approval rating of 77% based on 281 reviews, with an average rating of 6.97/10. 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.
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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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