How ‘Doctor Sleep’ Connects Back to ‘The Shining’

Cordwainer Bird
Movies Horror
Movies Horror
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Horror novelist, Stephen King, rarely writes sequels to his work. But when he does so, we’re glad to revisit it with him. The latest movie adaptation, Doctor Sleep, is the sequel to the 1980 psychological horror classic, The Shining and stars an adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) who is recovering from the trauma from his time at the Overlook Hotel. Just when he thinks he has buried his past, he encounters Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), who has the same psychic powers as he does. Abra needs Danny’s help to fend off Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her nomadic gang of psychic vampires, The True Knot. To help Abra, Danny needs to dig deep into his powers and revive the past he tries so hard to leave behind.

Director Mike Flanagan says that connecting the adaptation of King’s Doctor Sleep to Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining was a challenge. Flanagan sees his movie approach as “an adaptation of the novel Doctor Sleep that takes place within the cinematic universe that Kubrick established.”

It’s a tricky feat but Flanagan sticks the landing. Here are some of the connections between the two films.


Having lived through the ordeal of Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance becomes our bridge between The Shining and Doctor Sleep. As a young Danny Torrance, he had to escape the myriads of hauntings of the hotel and his father’s murderous intents. As an adult, Danny has been doing whatever he can to escape from the traumas he experienced at the Overlook Hotel, including resorting to alcoholism. This is also how he’s been trying to suppress is own supernatural power; an ability that he always knew he had but never had the name for.

Which bring us to the next point.


In The Shining, Dick Hallorann, the chef of the Overlook Hotel, tells Danny that, like him, Danny also posses the ability called the ‘shining’ or the ‘shine’. This is telepathy and clairvoyance of sorts; allowing those with the gift to be able to communicate using the mind and see the future. Danny is able to use the shine to evade dangers (alas poor Dick, it wasn’t enough).

In Doctor Sleep, Danny will meet others who have the shine as well. He’ll also discover that some of these very same people will become targets of an insidious group intent on feeding off of Shine-users. These are the True Knot and they present a great danger that Danny will have to reckon with.


It was the word that little Danny Torrance repeated (and scrawled out) that portends an imminent death. If the adult Danny is seeing the letters, it is most likely an indication that someone is about to meet his or her grisly end.


The four notes from the 13th-century requiem used in funerals. Called the “dies irae”, you can hear the notes in the opening titles of The Shining or in other parts of the film where something terrible has happened. As the same minor notes are heard throughout in the trailer for Doctor Sleep, it’s safe to say that we’ll be hearing more of this in the film’s soundtrack.


The famous room that Jack Torrance (the patriarch from The Shining) was told never to enter due to its haunted nature. According to the Doctor Sleep trailer, the iconic room makes its appearance once more when Danny returns to the Overlook Hotel for his showdown with The True Knot. Since we’re on the topic of the place where it all started…


The tragic events from The Shining where all based within or around the Overlook Hotel, so it’s understandable that Danny Torrance has been actively trying to avoid being anywhere near it in the years since. However, we already know that fate will conspire against Danny as he will be making his way back there. What significance does the hotel have to the plot? And how will Danny cope having to relive and face his past?


Ah, the Grady Twins. Still creepy, still pretty in their little dresses and we still don’t want to play with them.

The spooky duo who haunted the Overlook Hotel and taunted little Danny on his tricycle back in The Shining, appear once more when the adult Danny returns to the lodge. They still roam the hallways, asking if anyone wants to play with them. Danny has to face his past and that includes contending with his parents, the hidden horrors of the Overlook, and, of course, the twin sisters.


Now this is a surprising appearance.

Dick Hallorann was at the receiving end of an axe in The Shining and it would appear that the death of the former cook of the Overlook Hotel is greatly exaggerated.

Replacing Scatman Crothers is Carl Lumbly, who, through the magic of make-up, looks the spitting image. The trailer showed Dick conversing with Danny and in the novel, he survived Overlook and is instrumental in the story.

We’re not sure how Mike Flanagan will justify Dick’s appearance in Doctor Sleep given his fate in The Shining. Maybe Dick is an astral projection or a memory that Danny is able to conjure up. Whatever is the case, we’ll only know once Doctor Sleep is released in theatres on the 8th November.