There is no denying that THE SHINING is one of the greatest horror stories of the 20th century, both in its original novel form from author Stephen King and in its legendary big screen adaptation from director Stanley Kubrick. It’s a high-concept premise, centering on the family of Jack Torrance as they are tormented by the evil spirits of the haunted Overlook Hotel. But it's an undisputed classic for its fantastically drawn characters and utterly horrifying set pieces. For years, it has seemed like an untouchable property in Hollywood, but that’s changing in a major way this fall with the release of DOCTOR SLEEP.
Directed by Mike Flanagan — the filmmaker behind OCULUS, HUSH and OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL — the upcoming film is set about 40 years after the events of THE SHINING and is based on the 2013 book of the same name written by Stephen King. King was inspired to write the source material because of a question that had been nagging him for decades, and it’s the key piece of the puzzle that ties the new story back to its predecessor: What ever happened to Jack Torrance’s son, Danny, after he survived the happenings at the Overlook Hotel?
For those who don’t remember, Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd in Stanley Kubrick’s film) was just 5 years old when his father agreed to serve as the caretaker of the Overlook for the winter season in the late 1970s, but he was no ordinary 5-year-old kid. In addition to being exceptionally intelligent, Danny also developed a telepathic gift called The Shining at a young age, allowing him both to communicate non-verbally and possess a kind of second sight. This proved to be quite helpful when his dad was driven insane by the haunted hotel, eventually creating a path for him and his mother to escape.
As you would expect, though, Danny isn’t exactly able to just forget about the whole incident and move on. Instead, like many individuals who experience traumatic events in their childhood, it becomes very much a part of who he is — and it’s because of this that DOCTOR SLEEP has important character study aspects to it. As an adult played by Ewan McGregor, Danny is a haunted soul who shares demons with his long-deceased father, namely a serious drinking problem, but while on a journey of self-improvement, he also discovers a larger purpose.
What makes DOCTOR SLEEP particularly special as a sequel is that while it takes the world and established characters of THE SHINING, it uses them to craft something totally new and in no way tells the same story twice. This is a narrative that not only puts a more emphasized focus on Danny, but others in the world who are aware of the gifts, namely a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who is discovering her own abilities and a monstrous organization called the True Knot that feeds on the powers.
To say that anticipation for DOCTOR SLEEP is high among both THE SHINING and Stephen King fans would be a serious understatement, but the good news is that the wait is almost over. The film will be hitting theatres everywhere on November 8.