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DOCTOR SLEEP trailer channels Kubrick and looks to the past and present for new horrors

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Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrence in Doctor Sleep.

Redrum is part of any horror enthusiast’s vocabulary. It is of no surprise, then, that the first Doctor Sleep trailer features the word so prominently. The word carries a sense of history to it. It evokes both Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining (1980) and Stephen King’s conflictive relationship with it (especially in terms of how Kubrick’s adaptation altered the author’s vision, complete with problematic character deaths the book approaches in completely different ways). Thing is, the movie version of the story is arguably more commonly discussed than the book itself when contemplating horror in popular culture. The Doctor Sleep trailer seems to be acutely aware of this.

The trailer comes off as more of a teaser on mood and tone than on plot. We see shots of an adult Danny Torrance, the now grown boy from the 1980 movie, wrestling with memories of the Overlook Hotel, possibly in the form of flashbacks. The word “Redrum” appears several times, creating a link between both films and confirming the fact this new movie is definitely looking to be a direct sequel to The Shining. Just how much of it will be a sequel to Kubrick’s movie or King’s book remains to be seen.

Having read Doctor Sleep myself, I would think a more plot-heavy trailer will reveal just how faithful of an adaptation this movie will be. The book seems pretty eager to avoid referencing Kubrick’s vision of The Shining. Danny Torrance is presented with the reality of other people possessing the shine, to various degrees. This prompts Danny to further explore the world around him, effectively allowing King to do some world-building and create a larger Shining universe.

Doctor Sleep book cover (2013).

And then we come to The True Knot, vampire-like immortals that make up the villains of the story. We get a few glimpses of them as well in the trailer. I would say their inclusion in the story is perhaps one of the main elements that sets the narrative apart from the original Shining. It changes the whole dynamic behind the horror King goes for when compared to the 1977 book, which is essentially a haunted hotel story. Doctor Sleep is more than a ghost story.

We will have to wait for the first full trailer Doctor Sleep to see just how faithful of an adaptation director Mike Flanagan plans to make, which will be his second adaptation of Stephen King material followed by Gerald’s Game (2017).

Doctor Sleep is set for release on November 8th, 2019. It stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jacob Tremblay.

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