6 references to The Shining in the Doctor Sleep trailer

6 references to The Shining in the Doctor Sleep trailer

When Warner Bros released the trailer to Doctor Sleep we were eager to investigate if it featured the venerated Hicks Hexagon carpet made famous by Kubrick’s The Shining. We were not disappointed. It’s in there alright, in all its retro-graphic boldness, together with a number of other The Shining and Overlook Hotel references. 

Doctor Sleep is an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 horror novel, the sequel to his acclaimed best-selling novel The Shining published in 1977. It has been much publicised that King did not approve of Stanley Kubrick’s film version of The Shining but that hasn’t stopped the trailer for Doctor Sleep making many references to the 1980 classic horror film.

Doctor Sleep is set a few decades after Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) lost it in the isolated Overlook Hotel. The film sequel sees Jack’s son Danny (Ewan McGregor) now an adult, an alcoholic struggling to suppress his gift of the ‘shining’ until he meets Abra, a young girl who has the same shining abilities. It has a lot to live up to given the iconic status that Kubrick’s The Shining has developed over the years. The task has fallen to Director Mike Flanagan (who has been much praised for his reimagining of the Shirley Jackson novel The Haunting of Hill House as well as King’s Gerald’s Game).

Flanagan has carefully homaged the spaces, production design and set decoration seen in Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel – some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history. You might think these flashbacks are all footage from the original film but they have predominantly been reconstructed for Doctor Sleep.

After the trailer’s premiere, Flanagan spoke at a Q&A about how he painstakingly brought The Shining into Doctor Sleep: “There’s only one shot in the trailer you saw that’s actually his footage, and that’s the shot of the bloody elevators. Everything else is us. Everything else is our recreation…. I can say that everything that we decided to use, our intention was always to detail and reverence, and making sure that we were doing it properly, with the hope that even the most rabid cinephiles might not be able to tell the difference with some of our frames and some of his.”

The trailer makes reference to Kubrick’s The Shining in many ways. The production designers, set decorators and film set builders must have a great fun recreating such ephochal scenes.

1. The hexagonal carpet

the-shining-doctor-sleep-comparison-carpet-overlook-hotel The Shining in Doctor Sleep
Danny on his tricycle in the Overlook Hotel. Above: Doctor Sleep. Below: The Shining

Film and Furniture regulars will know one of the original inspirations for this very website was the hexagonal patterned carpet in The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel. The carpet in The Hotel’s corridor features prominently in several key scenes of Kubrick’s film, including young Danny’s first unnerving encounter with room 237 as he investigates on his tricycle. The carpet’s dynamic orange, brown and red colour way and mesmerising graphic pattern leap out at us from the screen, so it’s no surprise that it has become the most iconic carpet to ever feature in film.

At first glance the shot from Doctor Sleep seems very similar to the scene from The Shining. The framing is practically the same, we see a child on a tricycle and a very familiar retro-patterned carpet but look closer and you’ll notice the tricycle appears a darker shade of blue (but this may simply be lighting), that it’s a new child actor and that the carpet is a slightly different colour and texture. Why Flanagan and his production team didn’t come to us for the genuine officially licensed carpet we’ll never know! We’ve done years of research on this carpet, offered up theories on why it was chosen for The Shining and what’s more, we sell officially licensed rugs, runners and carpet to the public, hotels and commercial interiors. 

This carpet has also been referenced and homaged in Toy Story 3 (Director Lee Unkrich is a big fan of The Shining), in Minions, Passengers and Ready Player One.

2. Heads through axe-splintered doors

The Shining in Doctor Sleep
Heads through axe-splintered door frames. Top: Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep. Below: Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining

Jack Torrance’s head poking through the axe-splintered door announcing “Here’s Johnny!” is a scene etched on most cinema-goers memories. And here it is referenced in Doctor Sleep with Danny Torrance as a grown man. The trailer would imply that Danny goes back to visit the Overlook Hotel in Doctor Sleep.

3. The room 237 bathroom

The Shining in Doctor Sleep
Room 237 and it’s bathroom. Above: Doctor Sleep. Below: The Shining

The green art-deco bathroom of the spooky room 237 in the Overlook Hotel is where Lorraine Massey was a guest. She was known for seducing young men into her room and having sex with them. She eventually committed suicide in the bathtub. Her spirit became one of the many ghosts known to inhabit the hotel and it seduces Jack in The Shining. The bathroom is back for Doctor Sleep, with a different framing in the trailer from a wider angle through the bedroom (with the other famous, outstanding carpet design).

4. The blood gushing lift

The Shining in Doctor Sleep
Blood gushes out of the lift in The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel

This shot of the blood gushing out of the elevator is the only one in the trailer taken directly from Kubrick’s The Shining. To recreate the exact way the blood spills and curls up the walls would surely have been impossible.

5. The Twins in the corridor

The Shining in Doctor Sleep
The Twins of The Overlook Hotel. Above: Doctor Sleep. Below: The Shining

Whilst riding around the Overlook Hotel’s West Wing in The Shining, Danny Torrance encounters the Grady daughters – centrally framed in one of Kubrick’s classic one point perspective shots. The corridor, the twins holding hands, the blue dresses and the flowered wallpaper are all recreated for the Doctor Sleep trailer. Note the Exit sign in Doctor Sleep is unlit. 


The Shining in Doctor Sleep
Above: ‘REDRUM’ on the door in Doctor Sleep. Below: ‘MURDER’ on the door in The Shining

No reference to the The Shining would be complete without ‘REDRUM’ handwritten in red on a door. Seen reflected in the mirror in The Shining it reveals the true meaning: ‘MURDER’. Flanagan however, has decided to show the words reading as “REDRUM”  when seen from the same angle of the room rather than when reflected in the mirror. The door in Doctor Sleep also looks somewhat decayed and old, implying that this is not a flashback and that Danny will once again return to the real Overlook Hotel to face his demons.

Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s haunting main theme from The Shining is also used at the end of the Doctor Sleep trailer.

Stephen King agreed to these Kubrick references and has even praised the fact on social media. This serves to position Doctor Sleep as a true sequel to The Shining.

Doctor Sleep arrives in UK cinemas on October 31.

You might also be interested in:

Stanley Kubrick: The exhibition has docked at the Design Museum

Checkmate! The story behind Kubrick’s carpet in The Shining revealed


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