This Shining Reference In Doctor Sleep Is Tough To Catch

Mike Flanagan is a contemporary master of horror with an immaculately detailed and compassionate filmmaking style. "Doctor Sleep" is another extraordinary entry in his canon. This hypnotic sequel to "The Shining" manages to work as both an engaging adaptation of Stephen King's novel and continuation of Stanley Kubrick's film. It's no easy task to synthesize those worlds, especially considering that King is not a fan of Kubrick's version, which departs in many ways from his original novel. 

"Doctor Sleep" follows an adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) struggling with his own personal demons and alcoholism. He meets a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who also has the ability to shine. Together, they battle an evil cult called the True Knot who prey on telepathic children to become immortal. Not only is "Doctor Sleep" chilling, it's also an emotional meditation on the ramifications of child abuse and generational trauma. 

Whether you're watching "The Haunting of Hill House" or "Midnight Mass," you'll notice that Mike Flanagan's work is meticulous and must be carefully scrutinized — often requiring more than one viewing to get the full scope of his vision and specificity. There are many textual and visual references to "The Shining" that are found in "Doctor Sleep," some more obvious than others. There are amazing shot-for-shot recreations of significant moments in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining": blood pouring out of the elevators, Jack limping down the hallway with an axe, the ghostly twins standing in the hallway. But there is one very small, almost imperceptible reference, that one insightful Twitter user picked up on.

Listen carefully for sounds of the Overlook

This Twitter user must have had their volume turned all the way up, because they managed to hear a tiny and mind-blowing audio detail: the rolling sound from Danny's tricycle in "The Shining" plays when Dan drives his car, along with Abra and his AA sponsor/friend Billy (Cliff Curtis), in pursuit of the villainous Rose (Rebecca Ferguson), the leader of the True Knot group who gleefully tortures young children. Mike Flanagan confirmed in a quote tweet that they did use Stanley Kubrick's sound for this shot.

In "The Shining," the tricycle scene occurs just before young Danny runs into the eerie Grady twins. Kubrick's infamous shot follows Danny from behind as he winds through the labyrinth hallways. The hexagonal pattern and vivid colors emphasize Kubrick's symmetrical "one-point perspective" framing and give the Overlook an uncanny feeling. After the twins ask to play with Danny, he sees a vision of their hacked-up, blood-splattered corpses lying on the ground. Flanagan recreates this terrifying scene in "Doctor Sleep." 

Inserting the sound of Danny's tricycle during Dan and Abra's search for the True Knot group foreshadows their imminent danger. This minuscule detail emphasizes the film's melancholy mood and demonstrates how Flanagan honors Kubrick's iconic visual style while making something truly haunting on his own. It's an easy-to-miss an easy-to-miss sound that cleverly communicates the idea that Dan's traumatic past in the Overlook Hotel will always haunt him.