Director Mike Flanagan says Doctor Sleep reuses three shots from Stanley Kubrick's film version of The Shining. Adapted from the Stephen King novel, Doctor Sleep is a sequel that takes place almost forty years after the events of The Shining. Its story follows a now-grownup Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) as he uses his Shining abilities to help a young girl being targeted by a murderous cult.
Doctor Sleep strays from its source material in the sense that it exists in the same cinematic universe as Kubrick's movie, making it a sequel to both The Shining book and film. Of course, there are some big differences between the pair, one of them being The Overlook is still standing at the end of Kubrick's movie (whereas, in King's novel, it burns down after its boiler overheats). As a result, the haunted hotel makes an appearance at a certain point during the Doctor Sleep movie.
During our interview with Flangan, the writer-director revealed that three shots from The Shining were recycled and tweaked for Doctor Sleep. However, the infamous shot of blood pouring out of an elevator at the Overlook is not one of them, despite its appearance in the Doctor Sleep teaser trailer. As Flanagan explained, the teaser was released before he'd finished his own version of that shot, so the marketing used Kubrick's original instead. Nevertheless, there are three other ones that made the cut.
It's the shot of the island in the canyon, and the two shots after the car going up the canyon road. We made it nighttime, we added snow, and we changed the car. Those three shots are Kubrick’s shots, but that's it.
Because the film includes flashbacks to Danny's experiences at the Overlook as a child, Flanagan ended up recreating a handful of visuals from Kubrick's Shining for Doctor Sleep. The most notable of those may be the scene where young Danny (Roger Dale Floyd in Flanagan's movie) is pedaling his tricycle around the empty hallways of the Overlook, only to stop at the infamous Room 237 when he senses the malevolent presence inside (the decaying woman in the bathtub). In Doctor Sleep, Flanagan and his production go out of their way to reproduce this sequence as faithfully as possible, from the cinematography to the hotel's general aesthetic.
While it might've been easier for Flanagan to have simply recycled footage from Kubrick's film in these scenes, the fact that he didn't is a testament to his ambition and desire to do more than merely play on nostalgia for The Shining movie with Doctor Sleep. The three shots that he did recycle are short, but would've been especially tricky to faithfully recreate in the sequel (they were captured using a helicopter, after all). That's to say, it makes sense that he simply refashioned them instead. Plus, if anything, their inclusion only further strengthens the larger plot and thematic connections between Doctor Sleep and Kubrick's movie.
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019