Doctor Sleep features multiple lengthy sequences of shot-for-shot, gesture-for-gesture, tone-for-tone remakes of scenes from Kubrick's Shining, a feat so formidable, given The Shining's status as a cultural object, it's impressive Flanagan even tried it out at all. The most impressive part is that a lot of it works, even though he had to recast Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and little Danny Lloyd to accomplish it.
"There are three shots in the film that are Kubrick's shots," Flanagan said, "the shot of the island in the canyon, and then the two shots right after it, of the car and driving up the mountain. That's it. Those shots we couldn't recreate, so we took his footage and we made it nighttime and we added snow and we changed out the car. But, everything else is is our recreation, including the bloody elevator and everything that happens in the Overlook. That's all us."
When the teaser for the movie came out in June, Kubrick sleuths noted that that famous slow-motion shot of the blood pouring out of the hotel elevator doors was from the original movie. Flanagan had to be mistaken, right?? Nope: "When we released the teaser trailer, the shot in the teaser trailer is [Kubrick's] shot. That was only because ours wasn't finished yet. It took us four months to make our shot, and we were still working on it, so we used his for the teaser. But the one in the movie is ours."
Those scenes aren't the only parts of Kubrick's movie Flanagan copied: Doctor Sleep also carries itself with a very stately, contemplative mood -- odd for a blockbuster horror movie, but right in keeping with The Shining's slow buildup of dread. In Doctor Sleep there are many moments of silence, many moments that nearly feel like calming ASMR videos, including one breathtaking sequence where Rebecca Ferguson's soul-sucking villain Rose the Hat astral projects herself to hunt another character down, floating languidly through clouds over the surface of the Earth.
"I hate jump scares," Flanagan said. "I've been really proud of some in my career, but mostly those are the exceptions to the rule, and I feel like jump scares disperse tension. They actually punctuate it. They get rid of it, they pop it like a balloon. I've always been much more interested in sustaining tension -- which is a lesson I learned from Kubrick." Doctor Sleep has lengthy scenes of adult Dan Torrance, played with a studied quietness by Ewan McGregor, working in a hospice in a small New England town, caring for patients on their deathbed. "It's a quiet moment, and that silence is intimate," Flanagan said.