If you’ve been following the career of horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan in recent years, you’ll know he’s quietly become one of the very best scaremongers in Hollywood – a feat cemented by last year’s truly brilliant The Haunting Of Hill House Netflix series. But after tackling a near-unfilmable Stephen King novel in his 2017 adaptation of Gerald’s Game, he’s taken on a hugely daunting task for his next project: adapting Doctor Sleep, King’s 2013 sequel novel to The Shining. The astonishing first trailer has arrived – who’s ready to shine again?
There’s a huge amount to unpack here – namely that while this is not exactly a direct Shining sequel, Flanagan is fully leaning into the iconography of Stanley Kubrick’s absolute classic. Doctor Sleep will be a sequel that reconciles both the Kubrick Shining (which King famously hates) and King’s follow-up material. Who’s getting tingles? Flanagan confirmed at a press event that all of the Shining shots here were shot specifically for Doctor Sleep, aside from the blood in the elevator. Yes, those are new sets and original footage. By the sounds of it, both King and the Kubrick Estate are pleased with what Flanagan’s cooked up – which might just be the ultimate seal of approval.
Plot-wise, this one sees Ewan McGregor playing a grown-up Danny Torrance (or, Dan as he’s now known) who has descended into alcoholism and avoided using his ‘gifts’ since that whole Overlook Hotel situation. But the trailer also teases a connection that he makes with a young girl, Abra, who also has the Shine, a creepy cult who’s killing people with abilities – and crashing back into Dan’s world, after all this time, the place that haunted his childhood. It’s a truly chilling moment seeing McGregor step back into the Overlook, with its axe-chopped door and ‘Redrum’ etchings.
Flanagan’s gift as a filmmaker is delivering on genre thrills, while also investing in character and emotion – and this trailer teases both aplenty, nodding to the past in spine-tingling ways, but also bringing plenty of new stuff to the table. From the looks of this first trailer, we could have another Blade Runner 2049 situation on our hands – an impossible sequel, that might actually, possibly, live up to an impossibly monolithic legacy. Now that is something to be excited about.
Doctor Sleep will arrive in Uk cinemas on 8 November.
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