Ewan McGregor’s Dan Torrance is a deeply troubled individual at the start of horror sequel Doctor Sleep (out Nov. 8). And that is hardly a surprise given the traumatic events the young Danny endured four decades previously at the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel The Shining and Stanley Kubrick’s subsequent movie adaptation.
“We pick up Dan in New Jersey and in the throes of his alcoholism, kind of right at rock bottom is where we meet him,” writer-director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) said Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles at a screening of the trailer for the film, which is based on King’s own 2013 sequel novel. “He’s nomadic, he’s violent, he’s crawled so far into a bottle that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. It’s really kind of a strange experience to meet your hero kind at their most awful version of themselves. Structurally, it’s really fascinating, from a writing point of view. You kind of feel like, ‘This is our hero, ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to meet him puking.’ So, yeah, we pick up Dan at the lowest point of his life, and, more than anything, this is a story about his redemption and trying to avoid repeating the same fate that his father had to deal with, outside of the hotel, just with his own addiction.”
One possible route to redemption comes in the form of Torrance’s relationship with a teenage girl named Abra (newcomer Kyliegh Curran), who, like Dan, is gifted with the supernatural ability known as “the shining.”
“He finds himself in a completely new role, which is basically to try to protect and mentor a child that is very much like he was, when he was little, a little girl named Abra Stone, who shines as well, and even more so than he did as a kid,” said Flanagan. “He’s kind of thrust into the role that Dick Hallorann served in his life in the The Shining, someone that very much by chance comes across this gifted child, and had to try to guide them a little. And Hallorann didn’t have that much opportunity with Danny, they only met really the once, and in this case Dan, who doesn’t want to have anything to do with the shining and with his own powers, is reluctantly kind of brought in to a situation where he’s going to be responsible for someone, and that story, that’s what really connected us to this. Someone who feels so broken in their own life, trying to fix themselves by taking care of someone else.”
The film’s main villain, Rose the Hat, is played by Mission: Impossible franchise actress Rebecca Ferguson.
“I can’t wait to see the Comic Con cosplay of Rebecca that will come out of this, I hope,” said Flanagan. “I thought when I read the book that Rose the Hat was probably the best antagonist that King had written in 20 years. I loved that character so much. A really great villain is tough, because you need to love, fear, and hate them all in the same breath, which is why I think it’s so rare to do. And Rebecca Ferguson is Rose the hat. She steals every minute of the film she’s in. I think it will become one of those iconic King villains. If you know her from the book, she does her justice and that character really leapt off the page. She does some horrible things. Horrible.”
Doctor Sleep also stars Carl Lumbly, Zahn McLarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Bruce Greenwood, Jocelin Donahue, Alex Essoe, and Cliff Curtis.
Watch the trailer for Doctor Sleep, above and see the poster below.