Doctor Sleep: 29 Easter Eggs And References To Stephen King And Stanley Kubrick
From the Dark Tower to Nightmare on Elm Street.
Unsurprisingly, Doctor Sleep is a movie that draws from multiple legacies--and as such, has plenty of opportunities for Easter Eggs, references, and callbacks to not only The Shining in both of its forms but the entire pantheon of Stephen King's horror--and the horror genre in general. It's jam-packed with winks and nods to King's history, shout-outs to Stanley Kubrick, and even some carefully placed self-references from writer/director Mike Flanagan himself.
With that in mind, consider this your spoiler warning--not just for Doctor Sleep, the movie, but for the novel, and both versions of The Shining as well. Though, if you've somehow made it this far with no knowledge of The Shining, we seriously applaud you. That must have taken some real dedication.
Doctor Sleep follows the grown-up Danny Torrance, now going by Dan, as he copes with his psychic gifts (his "shine") into adulthood and, eventually, comes face-to-face with an entirely new threat. The True Knot, a band of quasi-vampiric, semi-immortal monsters who feed on the psychic energy released upon death, or "steam," have set their sights on a young girl who physically connects with Dan. Now he must reckon with the ghosts of his past to save her--and return to some of the most traumatic and horrifying places of his childhood in the process.
Doctor Sleep is in theaters now.
Those opening sounds
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more iconic set of musical chords than The Shining's blaring bass notes. Bwaah-bwah-bwaah-bwah--you know the ones.
The Overlook Hotel's most haunted room, Room 237, crops up more than once. Both the room itself and it's most horrifying inhabitant, the bathtub woman, terrorize Dan and Abra.
In The Shining novel, The Overlook's infamous room wasn't 237 but 217. In Doctor Sleep, the original room 217 gets a nod in the form of the hospice room Dan sees the ghost of Hallorann in for the final time.
Rose's first victim, a little girl named Violet, points out her hat, which Rose takes care to describe as one of her personal signatures--so much so that it's even become part of her name. Rose's hat is one of her biggest defining features in the novel, and one of her most mysterious. The hat's origin is never explained in either incarnation of the story, but we do get a pretty pointed moment here in the movie where she becomes visibly distressed when it gets knocked off her head and a stranger moves to touch it.
Danny may be going by "Dan" now as an adult, but his ghostly mentor still calls him by his childhood nickname: "Doc."
Dick Hallorann's fate differs between The Shining as a novel and as a movie. In the former, he survives The Overlook and is able to help both Danny and Wendy in the aftermath of the chaos. In the movie, however, he's killed. Here in Doctor Sleep, it's almost a blend of the two: Dick is dead, but still able to be Dan's mentor thanks to his Shine, which allows him to see and communicate with ghosts. Thankfully Dick, unlike the other spirits from The Overlook, is anything but malevolent.
Snakebite Andi lures her victim into a movie theater playing Casablanca, the classic Humphry Bogard/Ingrid Bergman movie about trying to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
Abra's Poltergeist-like powers
The first demonstration of Abra's Shine comes to us in a very Poltergeist flavored scene where she inadvertently makes every spoon in her family's kitchen dig into the ceiling after seeing a magician use spoons for magic tricks at her birthday party. It may not be a heap of chairs, but it's pretty close.
Children of the Corn
You can't put a little kid anywhere near a cornfield in a Stephen King story without evoking the spirit of Children of the Corn, which is exactly the case during poor Bradley Treavor's abduction by the True Knot, right after his baseball game.
Abra's apparently a big fan of the animated show RWBY--her room is decked out in RWBY posters and figurines.
Nightmare on Elm Street
Abra's family home is located on quiet, suburban Elm Street. Her dreams aren't invaded by Freddy Krueger, obviously, but Rose The Hat does a pretty passable impression.
Dan's imaginary friend/manifestation of his Shine is a person he calls "Tony," who happens to live in his finger. In The Shining, Dan even did a creepy voice to "speak" for Tony--it never comes up here in Doctor Sleep, but Tony himself does get a number of name-checks.
"Great party, isn't it?"
Horace M. Derwent is one of The Overlook's most iconic ghosts, partly because of his massive, bleeding head wound, but mostly thanks to his perfectly memetic line: "Great party, isn't it?" Which gets a direct shout-out here in Doctor Sleep, alongside a cameo from Horace himself.
The twins who ask Danny to "come play with" them are probably the single most famous thing to come from The Shining aside from Jack Nicholson's performance itself--so, of course, they show back up here in Doctor Sleep.
Mike Flanagan was able to nod to one of his own Stephen King adaptations, Gerald's Game, during the scene in which Rose's hand is pretty brutally smashed, and partially skinned, while she tries to rifle around Abra's mind. In a conversation with GameSpot about the moment, he laughed and confessed that he loves any opportunity to "really f*** up a hand."
Jack's ghost gets to have a conversation with his adult son in The Overlook's Gold Room, which perfectly mirror's Jack's own conversation with Lloyd at the bar as he spiraled into his own madness.
The Oculus Mirror
Flanagan was able to sneak one more nod to his own work into Doctor Sleep: The cursed mirror from Oculus, which, he admitted he originally pitched as "a portable Overlook hotel" when he was first working to get the movie made. You'll be able to spot it just outside the Gold Room, lurking down the hall as Dan rounds the corner.
The Overlook's Fate
The ultimate fate of The Overlook was drastically changed for Stanley Kubrick's version of the story, which is a legacy preserved here in the film version of Doctor Sleep as well. The Overlook may have been abandoned and left to rot, but it's definitely still standing--for now, at least.
The sounds of the True Knot's steam canisters are in fact altered versions of the screams of children--specifically the screams of Violet and Bradley, both of whom we were able to see the True Knot take during the events of the film.
Moments before the big shoot out in the forest, the sound of the True Knot's tires moving from pavement to dirt was overlayed with the original sound of Danny's trike tires on The Overlook's carpeted hallways--a little sonic trick Flanagan and his team used to ramp up the tension of the moment.
Summer vs. Winter
We're tweeted to a sweeping aerial shot of the journey to The Overlook which mirrors the original approach we first saw in The Shining. Back in 1980, we visited the hotel in the winter--here, in the modern day, we're returning to the rotting husk in the summer.
The Redrum Door
Of course, the infamous "here's Johnny" scene gets a direct nod in Doctor Sleep--Dan even peers through the hole his father cut into the door to match the shot.
Dan arms himself with an ax before the final fight--just like his father.
Up the stairs
During the last battle, Rose pointedly backs Dan up the stairs of The Overlook's Colorado Lounge in a perfect mirror of the scene from The Shining where Jack forces Wendy into the same position.
A father/son ending
Dan's ending here in the movie version of Doctor Sleep is dramatically different from the ending of the novel, but it is directly lifted from The Shining's original ending for Jack, where he sacrifices himself by blowing The Overlook's boilers and leveling the hotel. Giving Dan Jack's ending--the one King never got to see made real in Kubrick's film--was an important way to button the story for Mike Flanagan, who counts that pitch among the scariest he's ever had to do.
The Blood Wave
Blood pouring out of The Overlook's elevators is one of the most dramatic "gore" moments in Kubrick's The Shining, and Rose gets to experience it first hand as she wanders around The Overlook.
The theater playing Casablanca where Snakebite Andi lures her prey boasts an upcoming show for standup comedian Joe Collins on the marquee. Joe Collins is a character in King's Dark Tower universe who is actually a monster that feeds on laughter.
The bus that brings Dan to New Hampshire is branded with a "Tet Transit" logo, a nod to the "Tet Corporation" which exists within the Dark Tower series.
Bradley meets his tragic fate on the grounds of an abandoned factory--an ethanol plant--which Abra uncovers by peering into the minds of various members of the True Knot. The plant itself is run by LaMerk Industries, a reference to the LaMerk Foundry, a company in the Dark Tower series run by the series' main antagonist, the Crimson King.