After nearly 40 years of dissecting and debating The Shining, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic starring Jack Nicholson and based on the book by Stephen King, we're finally about to get its first cinematic companion, and the trailer to prove it (watch above).
The film follows a grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), given the nickname "Doctor Sleep" for his ability to ease his hospice patients into their transitions with the aid of his extrasensory abilities. Like his father Jack (Nicholson), Danny is struggling with alcoholism (not to mention PTSD from childhood), and mostly suppresses his power. That is until the teenage Abra (Kyliegh Curran) comes into his life and displays even stronger abilities, and the pair are ultimately pitted against The True Knot, a cult lead by the merciless Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson).
"You're magic like me," Abra tells Danny in the trailer. "I don't know about magic," he replies. "I always called it The Shining."
For fans who've wondered just how much Doctor Sleep will tap into the imagery and ethos of its seminal predecessor, if the trailer is any indication the answer will be quite a lot.
Starting with the re-emergence of the iconic anagram "redrum," which literally shakes Danny out of bed in the preview's opening moments, the creepy trailer is littered with callbacks, from young Danny's Big Wheel to the "The Shining twins" (as they've been ever known since) to the bathtub lady of Room 237. The first look even concludes with Danny back at The Overlook Hotel, gazing through the gaping hole in the door that his crazed father (Nicholson) hacked with an axe.
At a press event previewing the trailer Wednesday in West Hollywood, Calif., writer-director Mike Flanagan (joined by producing partner Trevor Macy) revealed that with the exception of the infamous blood-drenched elevator lobby scene, all of the throwback shots you see in the trailer were painstakingly recreated for the follow-up.
What exactly Doctor Sleep follows up, though, proved a tightrope act for Flanagan and Macy (Oculus, Gerald's Game, TV's The Haunting of Hill House).
As surely most film buffs know, King, the celebrated author behind The Shining, hated the film version. Or as Flanagan put it much more diplomatically, "Stephen King's opinions about the Kubrick adaptation are famous and complicated."
So is Doctor Sleep purely an adaptation of the 2013 novel of the same name, which defiantly ignored several tweaks Kubrick made to the story, an extension of King's original source material, or a true movie sequel to The Shining?
"The answer's really complicated," Flanagan said. "The answer to all of those questions has always been 'Yes.' It is an adaptation of the novel Doctor Sleep, which is Stephen King's sequel to his novel The Shining. But this also exists very much in the same cinematic universe that Kubrick established in his adaptation of The Shining.
"And reconciling those at times very different sources has been the most challenging and most thrilling part of this for us."
As Macy noted, the film has been embraced by both King and the Kubrick estate.
"I went back to the book first," Flanagan said. "And the big conversation that we had to have was about whether or not we could still do a faithful adaptation of the novel as King had laid it out while inhabiting the universe that Kubrick created. And that was the conversation that we had to have with Stephen King to kick the whole thing off. And if that conversation hadn't gone the way it went, we wouldn't have done the film."
Of course the goal is also to simultaneously create an original piece of art. "First and foremost the movie is kind of its own thing," Macy said. "But in a very real sense, we're standing on the shoulders of literary and cinematic giants."
"Which has been no pressure whatsoever," Flanagan joked.
Doctor Sleep opens Nov. 8.
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