More than 30 years after it first hit cinemas in 1980, Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece The Shining will be getting a sequel. Titled Doctor Sleep and directed by The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, the follow-up to Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel will see an adult Danny (Ewan McGregor) struggle to live with his past while defending himself from present and future threats.
Since the upcoming movie has the unique position of being a sequel both to King’s best-selling book and Kubrick's iconic film (which took a lot of liberties), Doctor Sleep may not follow everything that happens in the book, making it unpredictable for both newcomers and readers. With these in mind, here are 10 questions about The Shining that we hope Doctor Sleep will answer or at least address in some way.
The Shining is filled with nightmarish imagery that has been immortalized in the annals of pop culture, with one such image being that of a guy in a bear costume giving someone oral sex.
Due to how suddenly it happened during the barrage of disturbing sights near the movie’s end, the scene of a bear mascot getting intimate with some gentleman etched itself into the minds of unsuspecting viewers for time immemorial. While it’s a longshot, here’s hoping that Doctor Sleep provides an explanation for the strange fetish seen in that room.
Despite having a bloody history that includes murderous caretakers who supposedly went mad due to cabin fever, the Overlook Hotel survived many potential public scandals before Jack Torrance was hired to watch over it during the ill-fated winter.
Did the hotel take more victims following Jack’s death, or was it abandoned after too many murders and hauntings? As shown in the closing minutes of the Doctor Sleep trailer, the once beautiful hotel is now unkempt, if not in ruins, and seeing what happened to it before the sequel’s events would be interesting.
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Overlook Hotel was what exactly was haunting it. There are many possible answers, including Mr. Ullman’s story about the hotel being built on an ancient Native American burial ground and Halloran’s claim that the hotel has a “shine” of its own.
The supernatural presence within the hotel’s halls is never given a clear explanation, leaving many to guess its true nature and motives for decades. Maybe Doctor Sleep will finally provide a concrete answer, or it will continue to be ambiguous about its mysteries.
For lack of better words, the Overlook Hotel is a haunted house overflowing with the spirits of the damned and their victims. While the movie is vague about what really happens within the hotel, it’s safe to say that the souls inhabiting it are essentially trapped there.
Now that the Overlook Hotel looks like it was damaged by time but not demolished, it’s safe to guess that the ghosts are still there. The question now is what are they up to, and what will the hotel do when Danny – the kid who escaped it – returns to its hallways?
After Jack succumbs to the cold and dies, a close-up of an old picture of a fancy July 4th ball from 1921 reveals that Jack’s the life of the party. Was he always a part of the Overlook Hotel, or was he just the latest guest it welcomed with bloody open arms?
For years, viewers and film theorists speculated about the nature of the haunting photograph, with some guessing that reincarnation is at play. Though it’s not the most pressing question, the photograph remains an intriguing mystery that Doctor Sleep could finally resolve.
One thing about the Overlook Hotel that people can be sure about is that it’s a haunted establishment. Those with the shining can see into the past, present, and future, and they may be able to interact with the spirits if the hotel wills it so.
Given how the hotel works as a supernatural hotspot and how Danny has the shining, it’s not impossible for Jack to return in the same way that the lady in Room 237 did. A more concerning question, though, is what will Jack do if he does return.
Against all odds, Danny and his mother Wendy escaped a murderous Jack and the malevolent Overlook Hotel. But despite making it out alive, it goes without saying that surviving the traumatizing events of The Shining would be impossible to forget.
Doctor Sleep takes place decades after the original movie, centering on a now adult Danny, but the sequel’s trailer leaves Wendy’s fate to the imagination. What happened to the two in the years between movies, and how did they cope with the trauma?
As mentioned above, the Doctor Sleep trailer gives no clue about Wendy’s whereabouts. Granted, the sequel focuses on Danny, but Wendy was an integral part of The Shining who risked her life to save her son’s life.
Given how much time has passed between movies and the fact that Wendy’s confirmed to return in the sequel, it’s safe to say that she’s a senior citizen at this point. Hopefully, she’ll have a significant role to fulfill as the Overlook Hotel’s presence returns to haunt her and her son.
In The Shining, Danny’s “shining” manifested in the form of his imaginary friend/talking finger Tony. Thanks to Tony’s advice and warnings, Danny was able to steer clear from the Overlook Hotel’s worst attempts at his life.
While it’s hinted that Tony is a part of Danny’s “shine,” the true nature of this unseen guardian and/or supernatural presence is left up in the air. Perhaps Doctor Sleep will finally reveal who or what Tony really is, and why he chose to help Danny in the first place.
The Shining made it clear that the titular gift isn’t unique only to Danny, Halloran, and (to some extent) the Overlook Hotel. The ability to communicate with the supernatural realm is something more than one person can do, and Doctor Sleep confirms this.
Based on the trailer, Danny spends most of his time mentoring a young girl named Abra, who also has the shining. While the two could be the sequel’s heroes, one has to wonder what others with similar abilities are like: are they trying to help others, or do they use the shining for nefarious purposes?
While it’s made clear that those who possess the shining have clairvoyant and telepathic abilities, the true nature of the “shine” itself is never fully explained. All that’s known is that it’s something otherworldly, and those who have it are burdened with it for life.
Whatever the shine is, the cult known as The True Knot in Doctor Sleep wants it badly. As Danny tells Abra, people with the shine have been targeted and killed by these ominous figures. The shine may give extraordinary supernatural abilities, but it also attracts all kinds of danger from the living and the dead.