We will not only be discussing Mike Flanagan’s 2019 adaptation of “Doctor Sleep,” but also Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of “The Shining,” as well as the two Stephen King novels that inspired these movies. So, spoilers on all fronts.
Let the “Shine” In
Although “Doctor Sleep” is very much its own story in comparison to “The Shining,” the opening sequence does take us back to 1980 as Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s haunting musical score plays over a retro Warner Bros. logo.
The screen is then engulfed by a familiar carpet pattern as young Danny Torrance, played in 2019 by Roger Dale Floyd, rides his tricycle through the Overlook Hotel.
“What’s Up, Doc?”
In Kubrick’s film, it’s first indicated that Dick Hallorann possesses the Shine when he calls Danny “Doc,” a nickname his parents derived from Bugs Bunny’s catchphrase.
Early on in “Doctor Sleep,” Danny and Wendy sit on the couch watching “Rabbit’s Feat,” a cartoon starring Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote. Coincidentally, this cartoon also touches upon daddy issues.
As Crow Daddy follows Snakebite Andi out of a screening of “Casablanca,” a movie poster featuring the character Dandelo is visible in the background.
Also known as Joe Collins, Dandelo is a creature from King’s “Dark Tower” series who feeds off people’s emotions, not unlike how members of the True Knot live off “steam.”
Speaking of King’s magnum opus, as Dan makes his way to New Hampshire, he uses a bus company called Tet Transit.
It’s possible that this bus operator is a division of the Tet Corporation, which is tasked with protecting the Rose and Stephen King himself in “The Dark Tower” series.
Dr. John Dalton’s Office
In one of the subtler callbacks, Dr. John Dalton’s office bears a striking resemblance to Stuart Ullman’s in Kubrick’s “Shining.”
From the miniature American flag to the teacups, to the positions of the photos on the walls, these two rooms must’ve had an interior decorator in common.
Dan’s Blue Sweater
If you’re familiar with the whole “Shining” moon landing conspiracy theory, you’ll definitely remember Danny’s blue Apollo 11 sweater in the Kubrick movie.
Blue seems to be Dan’s go-to color in “Doctor Sleep” and one particular sweater he wears to an AA meeting is the same shade of blue as his childhood sweater.
Oregon’s Timberline Lodge provided exterior shots for the Overlook, although Kubrick was asked by management not to use room 217, fearing that guests wouldn’t want to stay there.
Kubrick thus changed it to 237, a room that didn’t exist at the lodge. In “Doctor Sleep,” Dan enters a hospital patient’s room number 217, giving a nice nod to King’s original source material.
Back to 1980
“Doctor Sleep” notably opens in 1980, the same year that Kubrick’s version of “The Shining” hit theaters. Later, outside of Abra Stone’s house, you may’ve noticed a sign that reads, “1980.”
No matter how much time passes, that infamous year remains inescapable. This is just one of the many subtle touches that bridge the gap between King and Kubrick’s work.
“Ka Is a Wheel”
Dan is repeatedly visited? Comforted? Guided? …By the ghost of Dick Hallorann, who at one point tells him that, “Ka is a wheel.” Stephen King fans will recognize this quote from “The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands.”
In King’s multiverse, Ka is a strange force that guides all creatures. Whether going forward or backward, Ka is always turning like a wheel.
One member of the True Knot points out that the number on Bradley Trevor’s baseball jersey is 19, a significant number in “The Dark Tower” series and Stephen King multiverse in general.
While 19 pops up too many times to list every example, it’s worth mentioning that the Overlook’s most sinister room in the book is 217. What’s 2 + 17? 19!