Stephen King Revisited: The Doctor is In

Posted: November 19, 2019 9:00:00 AM CST

I don’t know if you’ve recognized the pattern yet, but once a month, we write a blog post connected to our Popular Reading Collection. Back in May, I wrote a post on our large collection of Stephen King novels. With the release of the movie Doctor Sleep, I figured you all deserve a part 2.

As a fan of just about anything horror related (and of Ewan McGregor), I naturally went to see Doctor Sleep shortly after it came out. For fans of the book, know that the director, Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) had quite the decision to make. While Stephen King has been rather forthcoming about his dislike of Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining (1980), Flanagan convinced King to allow him to blend the two worlds together – King’s The Shining (1977) and Kubrick’s The Shining – for the motion picture version of King’s Doctor Sleep (2013). Flanagan basically convinced King that the wider audience was more familiar with Kubrick’s film; therefore, it made sense to allow that world to inspire the film sequel. After some convincing, King gave the ok, and we have Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep.

So what are the differences? Read on to find out a few I noticed – WARNING! Naturally you should expect a few spoilers (for the books and movies). Though I will say, I don’t plan on sharing all the differences, so be sure to read the book and/or check out the movie if you’d like to discover the rest.

One of the biggest changes that Kubrick made regards the Overlook Hotel. In King’s novel, the hotel explodes with poor insane Jack Torrance inside. As many who have seen Kubrick’s version know, while Mr. Torrance does meet an unfortunate end (see photo), the hotel stands a dark, hungry creature, unharmed.

Movie still from Doctor Sleep of Jack frozen sitting in snow

Another change involves the fate of Dick Hallorann, the kindly gentleman chef who was also gifted with “the shine.” While Kubrick’s Hallorann met a violent end, King allowed Danny’s friend to live on.

“Wait,” I hear you say, “You said you were going to talk about Doctor Sleep, not The Shinning.” I’m working my way there, promise.

You see, these key changes made by Kubrick were adopted by Flanagan. The Overlook stands, Hallorann does not. Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep carries these plot changes over, leaving Hallorann’s visits as a ghostly guide for Danny and the Overlook as both the final showdown arena and the final boss that must be defeated.

Continuing with that, while King had Jack Torrance’s descent into madness and obsession with killing his family act as the reason he forgot to depressurize the hotel’s boiler; in Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, it is his son, Danny Torrance, who successfully defeats the living hotel by purposefully causing the boiler to explode.

A few character changes were made, from eliminating characters, reducing the roles of characters, and even increasing some characters’ hit power. Additionally, while books tend to be more graphic and detailed, in the case of Doctor Sleep, the changes made lead to a bit grislier outcome for certain characters.

Whether of not these changes worked is completely left up to you as a reader and viewer. Personally, I happily accepted the changes. Flanagan managed to take the best parts of the book and adapted them to fit into Kubrick’s world. In my humble opinion, it made the story feel more like a sequel than the book did.

As promised, I don’t want to give everything away, so I’ll leave my offerings of differences at what I’ve mentioned or hinted at above.

Book cover of The ShiningBook cover of Doctor Sleep

Has this post made you curious about the books? Check out our Popular Reading collection, located between the Circulation Desk and the elevators, to find King’s The Shining and Doctor Sleep on our shelves. Read them, watch the movies, and tell us what you think. I know I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time….


Happy Reading!!

By: Trisha Hernandez

Category: Today’s Special, Books & More