Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Ewan McGregor plays the adult Danny Torrance in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Doctor SleepA continuation on The shining

A hospice worker with psychic abilities must face the horrors of his past to protect a young girl from a murderous cult in the first trailer of Doctor Sleep, the big screen adaptation of horror master Stephen King’s novel. It’s sort of a sequel as both the novel and film explore what happened to young Danny Torrance as he came of age after the horrific events of The shining

(Spoilers for The shining novel and film; mild spoilers for Doctor Sleep the novel.)

King published The shining in 1977. It became his first hardback bestseller and was made into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1980, starring Jack Nicholson as struggling alcoholic and aspiring writer Jack Torrance. Initial reviews weren’t particularly favorable – King himself isn’t a fan of the film – but it’s now considered a horror classic.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Jack Torrance takes the position as the winter caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny has a psychic ability called “the Shining” that allows him to communicate telepathically with the hotel chef, Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers). The hotel is haunted and the previous concierge went mad and killed his family. Jack eventually succumbs to the same madness, though Wendy and Danny manage to escape with their lives.

In the sequel novel Doctor SleepKing tried to continue Danny’s story as the boy grows up and struggles to recover from the psychological trauma he experienced at the Overlook Hotel. He has learned to keep the ghosts in a mental “lockbox”, but still spends years as an alcoholic – the drinking suppresses the shine – wandering from town to town. Now in his forties, Dan finally sobers up and settles in Frazier, a New Hampshire town. He lands a job at a hospice, where he uses his newly-emerged psychic ability to comfort terminally ill patients, earning him the nickname Doctor Sleep. (He is aided in this by a cat, inspired by a real-life therapy cat named Oscar, who some claimed could predict the death of the terminally ill.)

Dan also forms a psychic bond with a young girl, Abra Stone, whose psychic powers are just as strong as his own. When she witnesses a boy being murdered by members of a local cult called the True Knot, she turns to Dan for help. The members of True Knot feed on “steam,” a psychic essence that comes from luster people who die of pain – though they can also contract illnesses, such as measles, from their victims. The True Knot targets Abra, believing that they can torture her indefinitely to give them a steady supply of “steam”. It’s up to Dan to protect her.

This first trailer of the film opens with an ominous “Hello” written on a blackboard in the home of an adult Dan Torrance. We also see Danny writing on the board himself, so he seems to be communicating with someone. Finally, he comes into contact with Abra (Kyliegh Curran), who tells him, “You’re magical. Just like me,” when they finally meet. Dan tells her he always called it the shining one, but warns, “The world is a hungry place. A dark place.” The True Knot makes an ominous appearance, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), and we see her sucking the “steam” off one victim and a little girl as her next target.

Mike Flanagan, who wrote and directed last year’s stunning adaptation The Haunting of Hill House, also wrote and directed this film. Flanagan has said the film will be a direct adaptation of the novel, with a few obligatory nods to The shining, because it’s set in the same cinematic universe. We get several direct calls to Kubrick’s movie in the trailer: a young Danny riding his tricycle through the maze-like hallways of the Overlook Hotel, the creepy twins (“Come play with us”), the ghost in the bathtub, and of course the streams blood flows from the hotel elevators.

I am cautiously optimistic; Flanagan has proven that he can handle the psychological complexity of classic horror with The Haunting of Hill House, and King’s work is largely in the same vein. That’s what drew Flanagan to the project in the first place. “It touches on themes that are most appealing to me, namely childhood trauma leading to adulthood, addiction, family breakup and the consequences decades later,” he told Collider last fall.

Doctor Sleep opens in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Listing image by YouTube/Warner Bros.

By akfire1

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