I’m sitting in Room 237 of the Overlook Hotel, talking with director Mike Flanagan about his sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep. For a life-long horror fan, it’s an experience both exhilarating and surreal; in spite of the missing walls and ceilings, in spite of the cameras, equipment and crew running in all directions, it feels like I’m inside a genre classic, a piece of horror history—and a future masterpiece. The attention to detail is profound, and Flanagan exudes an infectious passion for this project.
The mechanics of producing a sequel to The Shining are complex and surprisingly political. Stephen King was infamously dissatisfied with Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his novel, which deviated immensely from the source material. Still, when most people hear “The Shining,” they think of the film, not the novel. So how will Doctor Sleep stay true to both the novel it’s based on and fans’ expectations? It’s a tightrope walk to be certain.
“The thinking behind that was, you know, trying to straddle that line between honoring the source material of the novel and the importance of Kubrick’s film,” Flanagan explains. “For us and, I think for a lot of the readers, when I first read [Doctor Sleep], I loved what he did with Dan and I loved kind of revisiting that universe, but I just had this real ache to go back to The Overlook and I was really, you know, kind of bummed when the book didn’t do that, and so, for us it was a question of how do we try to combine those two worlds in a way that’s going to make Stephen feel really satisfied with what we did and also honor the legacy of the Kubrick film and what it means to cinephiles. It’s one of the most influential, if not the most influential horror movie of all time. So, that was a tough call, and we needed to get Stephen on board, but when we explained how we wanted to do it he was actually really enthusiastic about it, which was quite a pleasant surprise.”
Check out some new images from the set of Doctor Sleep below (including one of yours truly standing in front of the REDRUM/MURDER wall seen in the film’s trailer.
We’ll be sharing more details from our visit to the set of Doctor Sleep in the weeks leading up to the film’s release on November 8th. In the meantime, give the synopsis and trailer a spin below.
Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra, a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.” Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.
Are you excited to check out Doctor Sleep in November? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.