Since both “The Shining” and “Doctor Sleep” were originally written as novels by Stephen King, with the former telling the story of Jack Torrance and the latter telling the follow-up tale of his son Danny, it would be safe to assume that the upcoming movie adaptation starring Ewan McGregor is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece.
The problem is, since Kubrick deviated hugely from King’s novel (which left the author very disappointed with the film), ahead of its release movie fans have been left to wonder if “Doctor Sleep” is actually connected to “The Shining.”
“I wrestled with that question from the beginning,” director Mike Flanagan tells Metro, although he admits that when he originally pitched the movie to Warner Bros. he told them, “I wanted to do it as close to the book as possible but do it in the Stanley Kubrick cinematic universe. Bring the Overlook back.”
As such, Flanagan has had to make some slight alterations to the plot of Stephen King’s 2013 novel so that his cinematic version of “Doctor Sleep” could still link-up with Kubrick’s take on “The Shining.”
Despite making sure that “Doctor Sleep” could work as a follow-up to “The Shining,” Flanagan admits, “It always made me feel really scared and uncomfortable to call it a sequel. My stomach would always drop out a little bit. The way I always felt about the movie was more as a descendant of ‘The Shining.'”
“This film has the DNA of both of its parents, and its parents are Kubrick and King. But it is still its own individual kid that has to find its own identity and find its own way in the world. That kind of freed it up to be a celebration of ‘The Shining.’ And a celebration of Kubrick. And a celebration of King. That made it feel like a tribute. That was one of the only ways that I could sleep at night really.”
Rather than just retracing the ground that “The Shining covered,” Flanagan sees “Doctor Sleep” as “the other side of the same coin.” While “The Shining” is about “addiction” and King’s “fear of what his alcoholism could do to his family,” Flanagan says “Doctor Sleep” is about “recovery, sobriety and responsibility.”
“I really liked that thematically we were going to be different to ‘The Shining,'” Flanagan continues. “In the same way that Danny Torrance is different to Jack. They still wrestle with the same demons, but they wrestle in very different ways and in a very different world.”
“It is about the trauma of childhood and how it shapes us as adults. Because who has had a more traumatic childhood than Danny Torrance? Plus it is all wrapped up in this story of recovery and support.”
You can see what Mike Flanagan achieves with “Doctor Sleep” when it is released on Nov. 8.