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Easter Eggs You Missed In Doctor Sleep

Written and directed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Oculus), Doctor Sleep is a film adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name written by Stephen King. It's also a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's beloved horror masterpiece The Shining, which is likewise based on a novel written by King. Flanagan himself is no greenhorn to the horror genre, and Doctor Sleep is packed to the gills with recognizable actors from other horror projects. With all those names attached, you'd expect Doctor Sleep to have at least a few references to King's work, Kubrick's work, and other horror works in general. You'd be right. Not only are there references to the original The Shining, there's a veritable cornucopia of references to King's Dark Tower series, cameos from familiar faces, and plenty more. No need to use the Shining or ask Tony for help; here are all the Easter eggs you missed in Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep is undeniably a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's film

It would be impossible for anyone with even the barest knowledge of Stanley Kubrick's horror classic The Shining to walk away from Doctor Sleep without feeling a hint of familiarity. Much like Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is haunted by what he saw as a child in the Overlook Hotel, so too is Doctor Sleep haunted by the visuals of The Shining

For starters, the film pulls direct footage from the 1980 horror masterpiece throughout the runtime as Dan remembers his experiences as a child. Slightly less obvious are the homages, which include a nigh-identical tracking shot as Dan and Abra (Kyliegh Curran) drive up to the Overlook Hotel just like his father did 40 years ago. Dan follows in his father's footsteps in other ways, too — while meeting with Dr. John (Bruce Greenwood) after landing in Frazier, New Hampshire, Dan is offered a job. In the scene, Dr. John's office looks nearly identical to the office of the manager in The Shining, which saw Jack Torrance get the job as the caretaker for the Overlook. Luckily, it seems Dan had a better experience as a hospice orderly than his old man did at the Overlook. Finally, Abra's home address is 1980, a reference to the year The Shining was originally released.

Dan Torrance takes after his parents

Although Jack and Wendy don't make much more than cameos in Doctor Sleep, their presence haunts Dan. We find out that his resolution to not use his Shining comes from trauma he experienced at seeing his mother's death approach, while his alcoholism is an unwelcome present from his father. His parents echo in the film visually, as well. While trying to keep Abra away from Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) once the pair return to the Overlook for the final battle, Dan is injured by Rose and possessed by the spirits of the hotel. When he meets Abra again, he's limping and carrying an axe the same way his father chased him through the hotel years ago. He takes after his mother, too, though — he tries to keep Rose the Hat from approaching him on the steps in a mirror performance of the way Wendy Torrance (Shelly Duvall) keeps Jack (Jack Nicholson) away with wild swings of a baseball bat in Kubrick's film.

Doctor Sleep is also a sequel to the novel

While Doctor Sleep is definitely a sequel to Kubrick's version of The Shining — as opposed to somewhat more faithful adaptations of King's novel — Doctor Sleep is also a sequel to King's original story. That involves some tight continuity and quick references, which should make mega-fans of the book smile. In the book, the forbidden room in the Overlook is 217, rather than 237. Kubrick changed the numbers at the hotel owners' request, since they feared that if the director used an actual room number at the Timberline Hotel (where The Shining was filmed) no one would want to book the room. Doctor Sleep uses the more well-known 237 number, but nods to the original book by having Dan step through room 217 at the hospice where he works when he's visited by the ghostly presence of Dick Hallorann.

Some other major references to the original novel come when Dan and Abra return to the Overlook; while there, Dan runs into Lloyd the bartender (played by Henry Thomas and made to look like Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance), who may or may not be the ghost of Jack Torrance. Jack/Lloyd offers Dan a drink of whiskey and tells him to "take your medicine," a famous line from the book that didn't survive in Kubrick's screenplay. In addition, when the ghosts take over Dan's body, Abra calls him a "false face," just as Danny called his own father in the climax of the novel version of The Shining.

Compromises with the film and the novel

Some bits of continuity between the novel and the film version of The Shining were too tough to simply adjust outright. For starters, the Overlook Hotel doesn't even really exist in the Doctor Sleep novel; instead, Dan and Abra wander through the wreckage as they battle against Rose the Hat and her cronies (who don't survive to assist her in the film version). That's because the Overlook is destroyed at the end of The Shining novel as Jack realizes what he's done and battles against his possession. Once again, Flanagan nods at that narrative by having Dan basically do the same thing, starting the boiler in order to destroy the Overlook.

One detail from the Doctor Sleep novel that didn't make it into the film actually has nothing to do with Stanley Kubrick at all; instead, it was clearly just too complicated to work within a 150-minute runtime. In the film, Abra calls Dan "uncle," first as a cover story for why he's being visited at work by a teenage girl, and later in the film as a sign of affection. In the novel, he actually is her uncle, since Abra's mother is his half-sister by way of their father. Dan also learns all this from Abra's grandmother who's dying of cancer, which all seems a bit too complicated for an already-packed film.

Who's to say what really happened at the Overlook?

Meanwhile, some things are just left deliberately ambiguous about whether they occured in Doctor Sleep's universe. For starters, Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly) appears in the film, first to offer young Danny a trick to keep the ghosts trapped in his mind, and then later to push Dan to help Abra. Dick never mentions how he died, or even if he really died at all — considering the psychic powers on display in Doctor Sleep, he could just be paying Danny a visit via Shining. That ambiguity is a reference to the fact that Hallorann's fate is pretty different between the novel and the film version of The Shining. In the novel, Hallorann unquestionably survives, helping Danny and Wendy to mourn in Maine after the trio escape the Overlook. In the film, he's killed by an axe-wielding Jack just as he arrives to help Danny at the Overlook.

That specific axe shows up later in Doctor Sleep when Dan uses it to attack Rose, but there's never any mention of it as the specific weapon that killed Hallorann. Whether he died at the Overlook in the world of Doctor Sleep seems to be left up to your interpretation. Whether he's a ghost or not, his presence does provide some Easter eggs. For one, when he meets Danny to talk about the Shining in 1980, he sits in the same position that Dan will later sit while discussing the power with Abra in 2018. Since Dan ends the film as a ghostly visitor to Abra in the same way that Dick first appears, it seems he takes after his old mentor in more ways than one.

Doctor Sleep makes room for the original Danny Torrance

If you've seen any of Mike Flanagan's other horror works, you'll probably recognize a familiar face or two in Doctor Sleep. The writer-director absolutely loves to pack his film and television projects with actors that he's worked with before. Several members of the True Knot also appeared in The Haunting of Hill House TV series, like Catherine Parker, Robert Longstreet, and Selena Anduze. Meanwhile, Bruce Greenwood and Carel Struycken, who played Dr. John and Grandpa Flick in Doctor Sleep, respectively, both appeared in Flanagan's previous Stephen King adaptation, Gerald's Game. They're not the only familiar face on display in Doctor Sleep, although you're forgiven if you missed this little cameo. The original Danny Torrance, Danny Lloyd, appears as an onlooker during a Little League game midway through the film. His appearance is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo, but at least you won't need to ask Tony if you missed something while watching Doctor Sleep.

Give Mike Flanagan a hand for this Easter egg

Considering how large the original Shining film looms in the world of pop culture, Warner Bros. couldn't just hand the sequel to any old director. Mike Flanagan has proven himself to be one of the most energizing voices in modern horror with diverse and consistently scary projects like Absentia, Oculus, and The Haunting of Hill House. If he needed one more accolade to convince them, he could probably point to his critically beloved adaptation of Gerald's Game, a Stephen King novel that was previously thought to be unfilmable. The story follows a woman named Jesse who, after some bedroom play gone wrong with her husband Gerald, finds herself handcuffed to the bed with no one around for help. In the novel and the film, Jesse eventually escapes from her handcuffs by slicing the skin off her right hand in order to slide out of her bonds.

Flanagan certainly didn't forget his prior King adaptation while directing Doctor Sleep, since there's a small reference to Jesse's ingenuity. In the film, Rose the Hat falls into a trap while trying to invade Abra's mind. The file cabinet of Abra's memories slam shut on Rose's hand as Abra toys with her. Like Jesse, Abra rips the skin off her right hand in order to escape, even if the success leaves both women with a gnarly-looking wound.

There are other worlds than these in Doctor Sleep

Stephen King's considered by many to be the master of horror, but he's also a master at franchising. Nearly all of his books, and plenty of his short stories, all take place within the Dark Tower universe, which encompasses everything from It and Doctor Sleep to the actual Dark Tower novels. In many cases, the references are small — a few words here, a corporation name there — but the film version of Doctor Sleep is packed to the brim with them. When Dick visits Dan at the hospice, he tells him "Ka is a wheel," a quote straight from the Dark Tower novels. Less obvious are references to two competing forces in the Dark Tower universe: the Tet corporation and LaMerk Industries. Tet shows up in Doctor Sleep as Tet Transit, the bus system that brings Dan to Frazier and, later in the film, Abra to Dan. In the Dark Tower, the Tet Corporation is largely benevolent, so it makes sense that it would appear in the film to take Dan and Abra to where they can do the most good. Meanwhile, LaMerk Industries owns the park where the True Knot torture and murder a young baseball player. In the books, LaMerk is allied with the Crimson King, who's one of the worst evils in King's universe, so it makes sense that they'd own the perfect lot to bury a body.

Finally, that baseball player might have been more important in the world of Doctor Sleep than just as a way to bring Dan and Abra together. His jersey number is 19, an integral number in the world of the Dark Tower series. Considering that the Dark Tower film adaptation bombed, this might be the last references fans are likely to get onscreen for a while.

Is this Easter egg a hint at a future Stephen King adaptation?

Since Doctor Sleep is itself a sequel, Flanagan doesn't exactly leave much of the story left untold by the time the credits roll. The Overlook and the True Knot have both been destroyed, Dan's passed on happily, and Abra's by all accounts the strongest Shine-user around for thousands of miles. Still, a line of dialogue spoken by the ghostly Dan could hint at an upcoming television project.

While saying his goodbyes to Abra, Dan tells her to "shine on" because the world needs "people who stand." Dan's not wrong: the world in King's universe really does need people who stand, considering that there's a massive novel called The Stand that involves a divine battle between good and evil. The Stand has been adapted before: first as a 1994 television miniseries, although it hasn't reached the pantheon of some of King's better-known adaptations. Dan's cryptic words might be a reference to the new The Stand TV miniseries which will premiere on CBS All Access, which is co-owned by Warner Bros. It may turn out that the only thing needed to defeat Randall Flagg and the Captain Trips virus was corporate synergy.

Doctor Sleep pays homage to another modern horror classic

It's not all Stephen King Easter eggs in Doctor Sleep. Mike Flanagan actually took the time to acknowledge another modern-day horror maestro: director Ti West. Like Flanagan, West started directing in the 2000s, achieving similar mainstream acclaim for his work on films like The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and The House of the Devil. That last film starred Jocelin Donahue as an unlucky babysitter in the 1980s who signs up for a last-minute babysitting job that goes very wrong, very quickly. Donahue also appears in Doctor Sleep as Abra's mother, so it makes sense that Flanagan would make a small reference to her House of the Devil role.

While Danny and Dick are chatting on the bench in a flashback to 1980, a bulletin board can be seen that's covered in flyers. Buried near the bottom and partially obscured is a flyer advertising for a babysitting job. Granted, the flyer itself doesn't bear much of a visual reference to the absurdly stark advertisement that was seen in House of the Devil, but the timeline and Donahue's casting in Doctor Sleep means that its inclusion probably wasn't a coincidence.

There's always some sort of nightmare happening on Elm Street

It's no stretch to say that Doctor Sleep is intensely concerned with dreams and nightmares. The title literally references sleep, and both Dan and Abra experience gruesome and upsetting nightmares. The big problem for those two is that their nightmares tend to result in real-life consequences, which might seem familiar to anyone who's seen the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Wes Craven's famous horror franchise likewise envisioned a monster that could invade your dreams and affect your real-life body, similar to Rose the Hat and the True Knot.

Flanagan paid homage to Craven's classic creation with an Elm Street sign that's clearly visible off of the main street in Frazier, the town where Dan spends most of Doctor Sleep. Considering that Dan also spends a good chunk of Doctor Sleep experiencing trouble sleeping, we think it's safe to say that there were definitely nightmares on Elm Street in Doctor Sleep.