It’s Stephen King’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Starting with his first novel Carrie in 1974, King’s unique style and endless stream of stories basically have lended themselves to be made into films and TV shows. And they are, constantly. Since 2017 alone, 11 adaptations and King-inspired movies and shows have come out, including IT and IT Chapter Two, Pet Sematary, In Tall Grass, and Castle Rock. It’s clear that King’s reign isn’t ending anytime soon, and we’re still getting one more horror film before 2019 is up: Doctor Sleep.
Doctor Sleep is based on the 2013 novel, which is the sequel to The Shining (published in 1977, the film adaptation came out in 1980). In Doctor Sleep, adult Danny, now Dan, Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is still traumatized by what happened when he was a child and, like his father, resorts to drinking to cope. He ends up meeting Abra Stone (Kyleigh Curran), a teen who has powers similar to Dan’s. Together they fight against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and the True Knot, which is a group of dark entities with evil, supernatural powers who need people who possess the shining to make them stronger.
What Exactly Happened to Danny Torrance In The Shining?
Danny (played in The Shining by Danny Lloyd) is Jack (Jack Nicholson) and Wendy Torrance’s (Shelley Duvall) young son who has psychic abilities called “the shining” or “the shine” in both the novel and film adaptation of The Shining. The shining is basically a magic power blend of being telepathic and also being able to see into the future. Danny’s dad, Jack, moves the family to an isolated part of Colorado for a job as the caretaker of The Overlook hotel. It’s there that Jack, a teacher who’s always wanted to be a writer, plans to work on his craft in solitude.
Unfortunately, The Overlook is no cozy writers’ retreat. Being so isolated and unoccupied is not so ideal for Jack, who’s a recovering alcoholic. Danny is able to use his powers to look into the future and see just how deeply (and terrifyingly) The Overlook will affect his dad.
Danny is also able to see The Overlook’s past and realizes the hotel has dark, supernatural forces that end up driving its guests insane. In fact, the Torrance family learn that the previous caretaker, Charles Grady, was driven mad and committed suicide — after he murdered his wife and daughters. Jack essentially shrugs it off and accepts the job anyway.
How Danny Survived The Shining
Danny has an imaginary friend named Tony who sort of helps guide Danny’s powers. At first, Tony (derived from Danny’s middle name, Anthony) acts more of a buddy to Danny, but quickly Danny begins to fear him, and then trust him as the ally he needs to survive his father’s madness (and the hotel itself). Tony is basically interpreted as an extension of Danny. Meanwhile, Danny also has a real friend at The Overlook, the hotel’s chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). Mr. Hallorann has the same abilities as Danny, and is able to telepathically communicate with Danny — and he specifically tells him to stay away from room 237.
About a month later, there’s a terrible snowstorm that traps the Torrance family inside with no outside communication, since the phone lines are down. Unfortunately for Danny, Mr. Hallorann leaves for Florida (which is weird, because doesn’t he have clairvoyant powers, too? *Shrug*). Jack, who unsurprisingly hasn’t gotten much writing done, is acting more and more bizarre and starts acting aggressively toward Danny and Wendy. Room 237, meanwhile, lures Danny, who can’t help his curiosity and ends up checking it out. While that’s happening, Jack falls asleep at his typewriter and when he wakes up, he tells Wendy he had a nightmare that he murdered her and Danny.
Danny comes back from room 237 covered in bruises; he tells his mom that there was a psychotic woman who tried to kill him. Wendy tells Jack, who checks the room out for himself (everyone needs to stop barging in on haunted rooms, okay?) and sees the lady ghost, but doesn’t tell anyone about it.
Things get worse and worse. Wendy discovers Jack’s writing, which is just pages filled with the sentence, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” At this point, Wendy is like, get me and my son the F out of Dodge, and begs Jack to leave, but he doesn’t want to, obviously. So Wendy knocks him out with a baseball bat and locks him in the kitchen.
Danny starts chanting “redrum” and drawing it on the wall, which Wendy sees is actually “murder” spelled backward. Mr. Hallorann leaves Florida early and come back to the hotel to check on things because he’s worried about the Torrance family. He tries saving Danny, who Wendy has chucked through the bathroom window while she deals with her murderous, possessed husband. Jack ends up killing Mr. Hallorann in the lobby.
Luckily, Danny is able to mislead Jack and he and his mom get away on Hallorann’s snowcat, leaving Jack to freeze to death.
So Why Is Adult Danny Torrance Called "Doctor Sleep"?
Obviously, Dan has been through a lot. He saw his dad be driven insane by a hotel and its evil spirits, try to kill him and his mom, murder his buddy, and die a terrible death. It’s been a few decades since he and his mom escaped The Overlook, and in the Doctor Sleep novel, Dan, who seems to have inherited his dad’s alcohol addiction and his temperament, copes with his childhood trauma by taking up drinking and becoming a nomad.
He eventually decides to sober up and start over, making a new home in a small New Hampshire town (King loves his small East Coast towns), and works at a hospice. Since Dan is now sober, his abilities come back and he uses them to comfort dying patients, which is how he gets his nickname, Doctor Sleep. The return of Dan’s shining also lead him to Abra.
Abra is key to Doctor Sleep’s plot, since the True Knot sees her as a way for them to become more powerful. Once again, Dan needs to use his special powers to survive — but instead of outrunning his dad, he must go up against a large group of people who also have superpowers.