Doctor Sleep features a particularly violent and shocking scene involving the death of a child, but it's essential to the film's plot. Stephen King's books often feature children in prominent roles, and Doctor Sleep is no different. However, one side effect of making children prominent in a horror story is that sometimes those characters die, and watching a child die is something most viewers find very difficult to do. It's understandable, as someone dying young is one of the greater tragedies that can happen in real life.
King's most upsetting child death, both in book and film form, is arguably Gage Creed in Pet Sematary, who gets obliterated by a semi truck in an iconic sequence. Lots of kids also meet a horrific end in IT, both the gargantuan book and its film and TV adaptations. Basically, King isn't afraid to hit his readers - and for adaptations, his watchers - with a true punch to the gut.
With Doctor Sleep out, many have likely seen the film, and been taken aback at just how drawn out, violent, and difficult to watch the death of baseball-playing boy Bradley Trevor (Jacob Tremblay) is. Bradley is viciously murdered by villain Rose the Hat and her group The True Knot in order to consume his "steam," created by his possession of psychic powers. Some have expressed displeasure at the scene, but the thing is, Bradley's death is supposed to be a hard scene to stomach, and its harshness is absolutely necessary.
Doctor Sleep: Bradley Trevor Was Also Murdered in Stephen King's Book
While King would be the first to point out that what he writes doesn't always make it to the screen, for the story of Doctor Sleep to be adapted correctly, "baseball boy" Bradley Trevor absolutely needed to die. In both the book and film, Bradley's death by The True Knot serves as the inciting incident that starts Rose the Hat and Abra Stone on a collision course, which also comes to include "Uncle" Dan Torrance. Removing the killing would hurt the dramatic weight of everything that happens after, and necessitate a revised explanation.
Doctor Sleep: Bradley Trevor's Violent Death Raised the Stakes & Elevated the Film
Bradley's death at the hands of Rose and The True Knot is extremely harsh, there's no getting around that. An innocent young boy is stabbed repeatedly, with his assailants purposely trying to inflict as much as pain and fear as possible, since it improves the quality of Bradley's "steam." What's worse is that Bradley's pleas for his life and shouts of anguish are heard throughout, made all the sadder by the casting of Tremblay, who audiences have seen grow up onscreen. It's hard to watch, but it needs to be. This scene accomplishes multiple goals. It gives Abra and Danny a reason to take the fight to Rose, as they've seen just how dangerous she is to those with "The Shine." It also establishes that Rose is ruthless, and will go to any lengths needed to stay alive, and keep her makeshift family alive. Perhaps most importantly, it positions Rose as arguably an even bigger monster than any of the ghosts inhabiting The Overlook Hotel, setting up the eventual evil vs. evil showdown during Doctor Sleep's climax.