Fans of the 1980 film The Shining will be going back to the Overlook Hotel with a grown Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep, the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel. It’s written and directed by Mike Flanagan, who also wrote and directed last year’s stunning adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, so I have high hopes for what he’s done with Doctor Sleep.
Doctor Sleep explores what happened to young Danny Torrance as he grew into adulthood after the horrifying events of The Shining. King published The Shining in 1977, and it became his first hardback bestseller. In the 2013 follow-up novel, a grown-up Danny struggles to recover from the psychological trauma he experienced at the Overlook Hotel. He has learned to contain the ghosts in a mental “lockbox” but still spends years as an alcoholic, just like his father—the drinking suppresses the shining—wandering from town to town.
Now in his 40s, Dan finally gets sober and settles in a New Hampshire town called Frazier. He gets a job at a hospice, where he uses his psychic gift to comfort dying patients, earning him the moniker Doctor Sleep. Dan also forms a psychic connection with a young girl, Abra Stone, whose psychic powers are even stronger than his own. When she witnesses the murder of a boy by members of a cult of psychic vampires called the True Knot, she turns to Dan for help. The True Knot members feed off “steam,” a psychic essence that comes from people with the shining who die in pain—a lot of pain, and the longer the torture lasts, the better the steam. The True Knot targets Abra, believing they can torture her indefinitely to give them a steady supply. It’s up to Dan to protect her.
The film looks to follow the book’s plot fairly closely, per the official synopsis:
Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the ‘shine.’ Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality. Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before—at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.
This latest trailer opens with a voiceover by Dan (Ewan McGregor): “When I was a kid, there was a place. A dark place. They closed it down and let it rot. But the things that lived there, they come back.” We see him move to Frazier, and meet Abra (Kyliegh Curran), who tells him about the murderous activities of the True Knot, headed by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). Dick Halloran makes an appearance (now played by Carl Lumbly), who tells Dan, “These empty devils, they’ll eat what shines. And they’ve noticed that little girl.”
They’ve noticed her because Abra has done a bit of psychic sleuthing, and Rose picks up on her presence. It’s a classic scene in the book: Abra senses Rose sensing her, and screams, “Get out of my head!”
And she’s so powerful, it knocks Rose flat. This naturally just makes Rose all the more keen to tap into Abra as a source of perennial steam. “Yes, you run, dear,” we hear her say. “And then I will find you and you will scream for years.”
As in the first trailer, which dropped in June, we get several direct callbacks to Kubrick’s original film: a young Danny riding his tricycle through the Overlook Hotel’s maze-like hallways, the creepy twins, the ghost in the bathtub, and of course, the torrents of blood pouring out of the hotel elevators. But this time, we see Dan and Alba facing off against Rose the Hat, who might not be fully prepared for the horrors the Overlook could unleash.
Doctor Sleep hits theaters November 8, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/Warner Bros.