Is there a more iconic horror than The Shining? Stanley Kubrick’s chilling descent into madness had a slow start at the box office, but gained momentum during the summer of 1980. It was, famously, terribly reviewed upon first release, while Stephen King hated the way his original story was adapted. Fast-forward nearly 40 years and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone unmoved by the film’s creepy baddies or dread-filled score.
It’s so popular, in fact, that Warner Bros. have made a sequel. Doctor Sleep – directed by genre stalwart Mike Flanagan – is out now and if you’re hoping for a return to the ghoul-infested Overlook Hotel, you won’t be disappointed. Here are some of our favourite juicy nuggets, Easter eggs and sneaky nods to The Shining in Doctor Sleep.
The Grady Twins return
Don’t you just hate children? They’re all sweet and nice, desperate for you to “come play with us”, and then bam – the elevator’s filled with blood and your dad’s trying to hack his way through the bathroom door with an axe. Don’t trust ’em, we say, especially if they’re dressed in identical blue dresses and call themselves the Grady Twins. Those ghostly residents of the Overlook Hotel are the worst. Unfortunately, they’re also kind-of-very-cool. So naturally, Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan just had to bring them back for the sequel. Seen mostly in flashback sequences, the twins never venture out of the hotel. Probably for the best…
Doctor Sleep repeats the famous Steadicam shot
Right out of the gate, Flanagan lets us know he’s not here to trash the original. Opening with a fan service recreation of the iconic Steadicam shot, we watch as Danny Torrance (played by Roger Dale Floyd) veers around corners on his trusty tricycle. You’ve seen it before, but the sequence is still bone-chilling three decades later.
Room 237 is taken, again
The next time you’re booking a cheeky weekend away with your pals, double-check the room number. You do not want to be staggering back post-pub to room 237. For those of you uninitiated in the ways of the Overlook, this most evil of hospitality-based integers is important because of what takes place there in The Shining. Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) first encounters ‘the old lady in the bath’ there, whose beautiful exterior soon morphs into a disgusting old corpse. It’s terrifying and the sight of the door slowly creaking open during Doctor Sleep’s intro hints at the return of a certain flabby-skinned ghoul…
The old woman in the bath is back
Mrs. Massey, a middle-aged woman who was engaged in an affair with a younger man, did not do well at The Overlook. One night, the younger man stole her Porsche and left her with nothing. Heartbroken and off her nut, she killed herself in the bathtub with a deadly cocktail of pills and liquor. Re-animated by the haunted boarding house, her spirit lives on to terrorise anyone silly enough to venture inside.
In Doctor Sleep, young Danny is now old Danny and he grapples with his own addictions, struggling to come to terms with childhood trauma. Plagued by nightmares, he is visited repeatedly by the decrepit old crone who is also featured in multiple flash-back scenes. Out of all the classic baddies from The Shining, Mrs. Massey gets the most screen time in Flanagan’s sequel.
Get ready for another blood-filled elevator attack
Yet another tricky obstacle the Overlook liked to throw in its guests way – the ol’ bloody elevator flood. Shot first by Kubrick (obviously), this classic moment is teased right at the end of Doctor Sleep. Well, they weren’t going to give us all of the nostalgic goodies up front, where they?
Jack Torrance’s axe is back in action
Eyes popping and frothing at the mouth, Jack Torrance rampaged around the Overlook in a murderous frenzy. But The Shining‘s chaotic finale wouldn’t have been the same without the bonkers writer’s trusty axe.
In Doctor Sleep, as Rebecca Ferguson’s fearless cult leader enters the cursed guest house for the first time, the camera cuts briefly to a glass case containing – yup, you guessed it – the very same axe. We won’t spoil the ending for you, but the iconic weapon does not stay put…
The bar is open once more
For most of The Shining, batty Jack can be found drinking his fill at a fancy drinking hole in the Overlook’s grand ballroom. In a chilling scene during the original, we watch as Danny (now grown-up) does the same. Nursing his newfound sobriety, Danny is tempted to pour himself a glass of scotch by the spectral bartender, who is played by Henry Thomas.
The Overlook is revealed in a long helicopter-tracking shot
Is there any sight more foreboding than that of cinema’s scariest building looming out of the darkness in front of you? Probably not, no. Stephen King’s iconic Overlook Hotel was made even more fearsome by Stanley Kubrick’s genius cinematography – which featured a very, very long tracking shot that started from the bottom of a snowy mountain, trailed a car round some twisty bends and then suddenly lifted up for its big reveal. Combined with Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s sinister score, it makes for a pretty hairy moment! Naturally, Flanagan mirrored this approach for Doctor Sleep, which features a very similar sequence. If it ain’t broke…
Well, you didn’t think you could escape a sequel to The Shining without a bit of backwards-spelling, did you? Perhaps the most iconic line from the whole film (after “Here’s Johnny…”), little Danny growls this nonsense word repeatedly. It is, of course, murder spelled backwards (later, two metal bands and a song by grime rapper Skepta would make use of the word too). Not what you want from your cute-looking toddler, is it?
Fast-forward a few decades to Doctor Sleep and Danny’s all grown-up, but he can’t quite escape the past. Holed up in a cheap, grubby apartment on the first floor, he senses a disturbance from another dimension (or whatever it is). By way of trying to send Danny a message, the other being uses their supernatural powers to carve “REDЯUM” into his paint-flecked wall. It’s just one of many crowd-pleasing nods to The Shining that are scattered throughout this sequel.
‘Doctor Sleep’ is in cinemas now