Though one of the main themes from The Shining novel concerns the alcoholism and addiction of main character Jack Torrance, this was largely omitted from the 1980 film adaptation from legendary director Stanley Kubrick. A criticism leveled at the film from horror icon and The Shining author, Stephen King, the recent follow-up Doctor Sleep looks to have brought these themes back to the forefront.

Doctor Sleep star Ewan McGregor has opened up about his approach to his character Dan Torrance's alcoholism, and how important the subject matter is to the film.

"I feel like we readdressed that in this. I think Mike [Flanagan] was always very clear that Stephen King had... I don't know Stephen, I've never met him, sadly, but Mike was very clear that The Shining was a novel that was written about alcoholism and addiction, and Doctor Sleep is a novel that was written about recovery."

According to McGregor, director Mike Flanagan could not have been more clear about what he wanted the film to say about the issue of addiction, and evidently wanted the adaptation to stick closer to the Shining source material than Kubrick's seminal masterpiece years before. The seriousness and substance with which both director and star approached these sensitive themes is obvious, with McGregor stating that this played a large part in drawing him to the role in the first place.

"My character, of course, as the young boy from The Shining is, when we find him, at his sort of rock bottom and he is an alcoholic. I think it was really key. That was one of the reasons I wanted to play him so much, cause it's of interest to me, and the fact that he then finds recovery and that it was very much central to his psyche for me to play him, I think."

Doctor Sleep picks up with Danny Torrance 40 years after the terrifying events of Stephen King's The Shining. Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the "shine."

Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality. Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra's innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before-at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.

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McGregor and Flanagan's approach has paid off, as Doctor Sleep is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. Since release the film has been very well received, with critics praising the contemplative nature and balance of poignancy against the expected spine-tingling chills. This arrives from CinemaBlend.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge