What to Watch: Doctor Sleep — The Great Geek Refuge (2022)

by Mike Lunsford, GGR Editor

Stephen King is my favorite writer. It’s not even a contest. The man has created some of the scariest stories of all time and continues to churn out more work well into his 70s. Not only does he do horror incredibly well, he also has written some excellent science fiction and stories like The Shawshank Redemption that show his range. Of all the famous books of his, my favorite is The Shining. Back in 2013, Mr. King released the sequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep. The long awaited sequel was a perfect blend of King’s styles: there were parts that were gruesome and made your skin crawl but also some that were inspiring and touching.

In the early days of GGR, I wrote a review of the novel and discussed how it fits well with its predecessor, The Shining. With the release of Doctor Sleep as a major motion picture starring Ewan McGregor last year, I knew that I would want to do a “What to Watch” for the silver screen version as well. Its existence alone raised questions about how it would be made: would it take its cues from Kubrick’s legendary film adaptation of The Shining or would it be a direct sequel to the book? The two properties had some major differences that Stephen King has not been shy about sharing his distaste with anyone who will listen. I was curious how they would manage this with a feature film. I didn’t catch it in theaters, but it’s finally available on a streaming service (HBO Max) so I dove right in.

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For you spoiler-free folks out there, I give this movie 8 out of 10 stars. Yes, it is that good and I probably should have made the time to see this in the theater. Doctor Sleep manages to blend both versions of The Shining as its predecessor and then takes liberties with the source material to make a uniquely interesting film that is horrifying, exciting, and captivating. Even if you’ve read the book, you won’t know exactly what is coming but will be satisfied nonetheless. The rest of this review will be spoiler-laden. Avoid any words after Danny on his big wheel if you want to steer clear.

Danny Torrance is a gifted little boy. He has the ability to “shine,” a psychic power that allows him to telepathically speak to others with the same ability but also to read other people’s thoughts, see visions of the past and future, and the most frightening aspect, see the spirits of the dead. I want to clarify this next part because the book version of The Shining and the movie are different, so let’s establish which version this film uses as its basis. When we last saw the Torrance family, Jack was trying to murder Danny and Wendy with an axe after the spirits of the Overlook Hotel convinced him to do so. Danny and Wendy escape via a snowmobile and Jack ends up a frozen corpse in the hedge maze.

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Danny and Wendy now live in Florida. The haunts of the Overlook didn't stay in Colorado though, as they continue to harass young Danny. With the help of his old friend, Dick Hallorann in spirit form (Carl Lumbly, Supergirl), Danny learns how to protect himself from the ghosts of his past.As Danny gets older, hefollows the same path of his father. His reasoning may be different than Jack's, as Dan (Ewan McGregor, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith) uses alcohol as a way to suppresshis shining ability, but the results are the same. Dan becomes an alcoholic. All the repressed fear and anger he felt from his frightening powers, the abuse he received at the hands of his father, not being able to protect his mother, it all comes out when he drinks as he violently beats a man with a billiards ball. He hits "rock bottom" after a run-in with a single mother in New Jersey when he steals money from her purse while she’s passed out and her young child is crying for her. He uses the money to get a bus ticket.

He eventually settles in a small New Hampshire town and finds a few people who are willing to help him straighten his life out. He decides to stop drinking with the help of his friend and sponsor, Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis, Fear the Walking Dead) and get's a part time job as a groundskeeper. He then picks up full time work at a hospice after meeting Doctor John Dalton (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek Into Darkness) at an AA meeting. With his sobriety,his abilitiesre-awakenand he uses themto help the elderly in a nursing home. His shining helps those near death see their favorite memories vividly and loved ones, helping them pass peacefully. He picks up the nickname "Doctor Sleep."

We get introduced to a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran). She has the ability to shine as well but is much more powerful than Dan. They begin to establish a psychic connection and communicate via a chalkboard in Dan’s room. One night, Abra psychicallywitnesses a young boy with shining abilities ritualistically tortured and killed by a vampire-like group known as the True Knot. They feed off the pain and suffering of others, but grow even stronger if the pain and suffering comes from someone with the shining ability, which they refer to as "steam." As Abra telepathically witnesses this cold-blooded murder, the True Knot's leader Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission Impossible - Fallout), feels Abra's presence. Blown away by Abra’s power, Rose formulates a plan to kidnap her and feed off of her "steam" for years. Abra begs Dan for his assistance in stopping the True Knot.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of how the movie plays out, it’s too damn good to spoil it like that. This movie has become a new favorite for me. Now, there is an automatic bias that I have as Doctor Sleep is one of my favorite books of all time, however that almost never translates into a great movie as a book lover’s expectations are high. This movie is that good.

Director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) manages to make a solid film that takes some liberties with the source material. The first hurdle he had in writing the screenplay and directing Doctor Sleep is that when Stephen King wrote the book, he had no reason to include any of the major changes that Kubrick made in his version of The Shining. However, a film adaptation that is a sequel to that story does not have that luxury. A film sequel needs to address its film predecessor. Flanagan had a lot to contend with. He had to make both fans of King’s version and Kubrick’s film happy with Doctor Sleep and he pulls it off admirably.

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Now, I want to be clear about this film. It is a horror movie. It’s not a gore-fest but it is unsettling at points. There are particular scenes that were difficult to watch personally, but also could be hard for others. For example, this movie could be difficult to watch for those who have struggled with alcoholism or other substance abuse issues. When it comes to the traditionally horrifying parts, they made me squirm, turn away from the screen, and sick to my stomach. The previously mentioned ritualistic murder of a young boy is graphic and hard to watch. It is a reminder that this is a horror movie about the evil of the True Knot…and it’s also 100% accurate to the book. Flanagan does not shy away from this scene nor does he avoid the haunting imagery that comes with the reawakening of Dan’s shining and the reminder of his past deeds.

The acting is superb as well. Ewan McGregor feels like a grown up Danny Torrance and gives a stellar performance. The aforementioned Rebecca Ferguson does a masterful job as Rose the Hat. She is exactly as I imagined her: beautiful but a frightening monster consumed by a blood lust. The role of “baseball boy” Bradley Trevor was played by Jacob Tremblay who did an outstanding job, so good it turned my stomach.

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My only issue with this movie was the ending. As mentioned above, Mike Flanagan had a difficult task in front of him, having to alter the story of Doctor Sleep to match up with Kubrick’s version while retaining the essence of the novel. He does accomplish this, and his version of the ending is creative and satisfying. However, I wanted to see the book version. They have similar elements, parts that were exciting to see on the big screen, but they tell different stories because of the differences. It makes sense given what Flanagan had to work with, and it is ultimately a good ending. In fact, this version has some unexpected twists. I still walked away from the film thoroughly entertained, enough so that I have already re-watched the movie.

There’s nothing worse than having a book you love get turned into a movie and it being a poor depiction. This was far from that. From Mike Flanagan’s direction and screenplay to the performances of Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and the rest of the cast, Doctor Sleep is a well executed version of the story. It’s not a direct adaptation of the novel, it’s not a direct sequel to Kubrick’s film, it’s somewhere in between, creating it’s own narrative that shows respect to both King and Kubrick. It is well balanced, and worth your time. I recommend the Director’s Cut as both it and the Theatrical version are available to watch on HBO Max.

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Do you need to watch The Shining for Doctor Sleep? ›

Do you absolutely need to see the movie, "The Shining" in order to understand the sequel, "Doctor Sleep"? Yes, you do. Kubrick's adaption of “The Shining” changed so much from the book, it almost became a different story.

What movies are connected to Doctor Sleep? ›

Doctor Sleep is a 2019 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It is based on the 2013 Stephen King novel of the same name, and is a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).

Is Doctor Sleep on Netflix or Hulu? ›

Watch Doctor Sleep | Netflix.

What should I watch after Doctor Sleep? ›

Here are the movies we recommend you watch after Doctor Sleep (2019).
  • System Crasher, 2019, 2020. ...
  • Invisible Life, 2019. ...
  • The Lighthouse, 2019. ...
  • One Cut of the Dead, 2017. ...
  • Midsommar, 2019. ...
  • The Collini Case, 2019.

Why is Doctor Sleep so different from The Shining? ›

Better - Doctor Sleep Isn't Afraid Of Its Heart

One of the biggest changes between the book and film versions of The Shining is the emotional tone. Like with much of King's writing, the novel is far more open with the emotional themes it's handling, making characters far more sympathetic.

Which version of The Shining is better? ›

For King, the 1997 ABC miniseries was better than Kubrick's movie. Despite being considered one of the greatest movies ever made, it is no secret that Stephen King is not a fan of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of his novel, The Shining.

Is Pennywise in Doctor Sleep? ›

Joe Collins And Pennywise

One of the deeper cut King easter eggs in the Doctor Sleep movie can be found in its opening. Outside the movie theater where Rose the Hat meets Snakebite Andi, you can just make out a poster for comedian Joe Collins in the background.

What movie should I watch before Doctor Sleep? ›

Doctor Sleep is based on the sequel to The Shining written by Stephen King.

Is Doctor Sleep appropriate for a 13 year old? ›

Traumatic for child and adult viewers alike

The violence against children is so disturbing that this might as well be a snuff film. I read that even Stephen King himself thought one of the scenes was too much. This isn't for kids of any age or even adults, for that matter.

Is Doctor Sleep on HBO Max? ›

Watch Doctor Sleep - Stream Movies | HBO Max.

Does watching Netflix help you sleep? ›

Studies have shown that people who stream content at bedtime take longer to fall asleep and the quality of their sleep is reduced. The result of this is that you have an unsatisfying night's sleep. If you're determined to watch Netflix in bed, the best approach would be to find something quite calm to watch.

Is Doctor Sleep and The Shining the same? ›

Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining, picking up the story of Danny Torrance as an adult. Stephen King revealed that he was writing the novel in 2011, and it was published in 2013.

Is Doctor Sleep a sequel or prequel? ›

Doctor Sleep is a 2013 horror novel by American writer Stephen King and the sequel to his 1977 novel The Shining.

Was Dr sleep a flop? ›

Made on a $50 million budget, “Doctor Sleep” was tracking to earn a solid $25 million to $30 million in its opening weekend. But that ended up being way off the mark: It only made $14 million from 3,855 screens. The disappointment came despite plenty of positive signs for the film.

Does Dr sleep have a happy ending? ›

Image via Warner Bros. At the end of the Doctor Sleep movie, the adult Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor)—son of Jack Torrance—has reunited with gifted youngster Abra (Kyleigh Curran) after a failed abduction by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her cult of basically child eaters known as the True Knot.

Why is Danny called Doc? ›

Thanks to his abilities (and a cat who seems to know when someone in the building is about to die), Dan is able to help dying patients pass on into the next world with peace and comfort. His knack for always being around when a patient dies earns him the nickname Doctor Sleep - Doc, for short.

Why does Jack limp in The Shining? ›

After wrestling with an angel who injures Jacob's thigh, his name is changed from Ya'acov to Yisrael (Israel). The damage caused to his thigh causes him to limp. In a close parallel, Jack is injured by his wife Wendy during the course of the film, crippling his leg.

Who is the dead lady in the bathtub in The Shining? ›

Lia Beldam is best known for playing the super sexy babe in the bathtub in room 237 -- whose flesh rots off while in Jack's arms -- in the Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece "The Shining." Guess what ...

Is shining the most scariest movie? ›

Courtesy photo | Warner Bros. Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is the scariest horror movie ever. It's also the best horror movie ever - a necessary distinction, because generating terror and expert filmmaking technique can be mutually exclusive.

Why are there 2 versions of Shining? ›

146 minutes. However, as explained above, less than one week into its release, Kubrick cut the 2 minute coda from the end of the film, reducing its length to 144 minutes. After meeting with poor reviews and erratic box office, Kubrick decided to further edit the film for its theatrical release outside the US.

Is The Shining one of the scariest movie ever? ›

The Shining is perhaps the greatest horror film ever made. It has an insistently unnerving tone that sticks with you long after watching it. The film is awash in constant chaos and its full of unexpected moments. The style of horror being used here is psychological in nature.

Why does Pennywise wake up every 27 years? ›

Related: What Does Pennywise Really Look Like In IT? IT arrived on Earth through an event similar to an asteroid impact, landing in what would later become Derry, Maine. Once there, IT adopted its usual pattern of hibernation that lasted between 27 and 30 years, awakening to kill and eat and then going back to sleep.

Can Pennywise get pregnant? ›

Upon transforming into various forms to terrify The Losers Club, Pennywise turns in to a pregnant female spider in the novel.

Is Pennywise a he or a she? ›

Throughout the book, It is generally referred to as male due to usually appearing as Pennywise. The Losers come to believe It may be female after seeing It's form as a monstrous giant spider that lays eggs.

What is the best movie to fall asleep too? ›

The 10 Best Movies To Fall Asleep To
  • Mean Girls (2004) 66 % 7.1/10. ...
  • Pineapple Express (2008) Trailer. 64 % ...
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 83 % ...
  • (500) Days of Summer (2009) 76 % 7.7/10. ...
  • Interstellar (2014) 74 % ...
  • The Wedding Singer (1998) Trailer. ...
  • Avatar (2009) Trailer. ...
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (1981) 85 %
6 Oct 2021

Whats better Doctor Sleep or directors cut? ›

The director's cut clocks is about 24 minutes longer than the movie's 151-minute theatrical cut, and will probably satisfy anybody who wants to spend more time with writer/director Mike Flanagan's version of King's characters. Flanagan's preferred edit features more polished visual effects, as well as some extra blood.

Does Stephen King like Doctor Sleep? ›

Whilst he isn't a fan of The Shining, in a 2019 interview with EW King revealed that he loves Mike Flanagan's film adaptation of his sequel Doctor Sleep, and even went as far as to say that a lot of this is to do with the way it tied his novel into Kubrick's version of The Shining.

What is the best bedtime for a 13 year old? ›

For teenagers, Kelley says that, generally speaking, 13- to 16-year-olds should be in bed by 11.30pm.

What time should a 13 girl go to bed? ›

Make a Set Bedtime

Make sure your teen knows that you expect them to be in bed by 9:30 p.m. with the lights out by 10:00, or whatever times allow for the right amount of sleep.

How long should a 13 to sleep? ›

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours.

Is Doctor Sleep 3 hours long? ›

The Director's Cut of the film is 3-hours long (180-minutes), compared to the 152-minute theatrical cut. Yup, that means just under 30 minutes of footage not seen in theaters.

Did HBO get rid of after dark? ›

According to TheWrap, HBO has quietly removed its erotic "after dark" movies and series. The cable network used to feature adult content like "Taxicab Confessions," "Real Sex," "Cathouse," and some "soft-core" feature films.

Are there jump scares in Doctor Sleep? ›

Jump Scare Rating: No major jump scares. In fact some of the minor jump scares are barely even worth noting. So if you are looking for a great movie without major jump scares, this is it.

How long before bed should you stop watching TV? ›

While turning off devices earlier to help encourage REM sleep is ideal (Shuster recommends shutting off any blue-light emitting screens at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime), we may want to rethink the volume of our media consumption overall.

Why should you not watch TV before bed? ›

Late-night TV watching disrupts your internal clock. Exposure to artificial light later in the evening can disrupt your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels. Watching TV before bed keeps you up later. A stimulating show keeps your brain alert, preventing you from falling asleep.

What do you watch when you can't sleep? ›

The films to watch when you really cannot sleep
  • WAKING LIFE (Richard Linklater, 2002) ...
  • AFTER HOURS (Martin Scorsese, 1985) ...
  • NIGHT ON EARTH (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) ...
  • I CAN'T SLEEP (Claire Denis, 1994) ...
  • THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Guy Maddin, 2015) ...
  • CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2016) ...
  • NEAR DARK (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)
1 Jun 2016

Why did Doctor Sleep not use footage from The Shining? ›

We didn't want to appropriate footage. There are three shots in the film that are reclaimed Kubrick footage,” Mike Flanagan told Digital Spy. “It was really important that if we were going to do this, we weren't just taking this footage.

Is Tony a demon The Shining? ›

As a coping mechanism, Danny's imaginary friend Tony conjures himself into the family's life. Late into the film, Tony reveals himself to be a spirit, the source of Danny's psychic power.

What does Room 237 mean in The Shining? ›

According to the Timberline Lodge website, http://www.timberlinelodge.com, "Kubrick was asked not to depict Room 217 (featured in the book) in The Shining, because future guests at the Lodge might be afraid to stay there. So a nonexistent room, Room 237, was substituted in the film.

How Old Is Rose the hat? ›

In the book Rose's age is never revealed, but in interviews Ferguson puts her at at least 700 years old. Doctor Sleep doesn't hold back on the truly disturbing sequences, but it is refreshing to have a villain whose motives are clean-cut and who never wavers.

Can I understand Doctor Sleep without The Shining? ›

So don't worry: Even if you've never read either book, you'll still be able to appreciate Doctor Sleep. You probably do want to make sure you watch The Shining first, though.

Why is Tony called Tony in The Shining? ›

Tony (his name taken from Danny's middle name, Anthony), is at first to Danny an imaginary playmate, then a source of fear, and finally a source of strength.

Why is Jack Nicholson not in Doctor Sleep? ›

Is Jack Nicholson in Doctor Sleep? In short, no. Wacky Jack, as he's known in Tinseltown, is very committed to being retired. Despite rumours he's to play Winfried in the US remake of German indie Toni Erdmann, Nicholson is pretty much out of the game.

Is the hotel in Doctor Sleep real? ›

However, as in the original The Shining, director Mike Flanagan decided to film all the hotel scenes on a sound stage. The set recreating all the rooms, now left to rot in decades since the Torrance family fled the place, was built in the Blackhall Studios near Atlanta.

Is there a sequel after Doctor Sleep? ›

“Doctor Sleep” director Mike Flanagan confirmed on Twitter that a planned sequel to his 2019 “The Shining” sequel is officially dead.

Why was the old lady at the end of Doctor Sleep? ›

In The Shining, she exists to remind Jack of his flimsy morals, and also plants a seed of doubt in young Danny's head. From that point forward, Ms. Massey serves as a psychological reminder of everything awful that happened in Danny's life, which explains her appearance in Doctor Sleep's opening act.

Who is stronger Danny or Abra? ›

Abra was born with very powerful psychic abilities, like her uncle Dan. Her abilities are even greater than Dan's were at his peak, to the point where she was able to generate a small earthquake with her mind.

Is Wendy alive in Doctor Sleep? ›

In the 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep Wendy has passed away in 1999 from lung cancer, possibly caused from the explosion of The Overlook Hotel many years ago. However, she appears in the start of the book, living with Danny after the events of The Shining in a new apartment, traumatised and timid.

What does shining mean in Doctor Sleep? ›

The main connection between the two stories is the shining itself - Danny's psychic ability that allows him to read minds, see spirits, and peek into the past and future, kind of.

Is Doctor Sleep Canon to The Shining? ›

"Doctor Sleep" is another extraordinary entry in his canon. This hypnotic sequel to "The Shining" manages to work as both an engaging adaptation of Stephen King's novel and continuation of Stanley Kubrick's film.

What does the number 42 mean in The Shining? ›

The number 42 also appears in various guises. The movie playing on the television is Summer of '42. If you multiply 2 by 3 by 7 (as in room 237) the number is 42. The Germans decided on the "final solution" to European Jewry in 1942. Therefore The Shining is about the Holocaust.

Why does Rose wear a hat in Doctor Sleep? ›

She uses her top hat as a prop, playing the role of a friendly magician when she is anything but. Her disarming charm is part of her terrifying nature, and she shows no remorse for the many children she has killed over her centuries-plus lifespan.

Who is the villain in The Shining? ›

Charles Grady/Delbert Grady, better known as the Hotel Caretaker, is a posthumous antagonist in the 1977 Stephen King novel The Shining and its 1980 film adaptation. He was once a caretaker of the Overlook Hotel who went insane, murdered his family, and committed suicide.

What mental illness is portrayed in The Shining? ›

The Shining follows Jack Torrance, a man recovering from alcohol use disorder, who has delusions and develops psychosis over the course of the film.

What causes Jack to go crazy in The Shining? ›

The evil spirits that inhabited the Overlook Hotel would eventually drive Jack insane by way of drowning him in his alcoholism, past trauma, and fears of becoming as abusive as his father.


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