One of the most well-regarded horror films of all time - and definitely one of the scariest - Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining still looms large in the genre.
When King published a long-coveted sequel in 2013, the prospect of a cinematic follow-up to The Shining suddenly became a real possibility. But there was one significant wrinkle: King himself is famously not a fan of what Kubrick did with his book. King's follow-up, titled Doctor Sleep, was quite understandably a sequel to the novel of The Shining, not the movie.
That was the quagmire facing acclaimed horror writer/director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House), the man tasked with bringing Doctor Sleep to the big screen.
"When I read it, I loved the story but all the images in my head were Kubrick, because that's the language I know as a cinephile," Flanagan tells TimeOut during an exclusive interview in West Hollywood. "I really wanted to make it in the cinematic legacy of Kubrick. And I knew that Stephen King would have very strong feelings about that."
He wasn't wrong, but Flanagan resolved to gain King's permission to lean into Kubrick's version of The Shining in adapting the sequel.
"The conversation was pretty interesting. I said 'Hey, I wanna make one pretty big change, I really think we have to do this within the cinematic world of Kubrick. And he said 'No.' But invited me to explain why and how. And so I made my argument, which was that regardless of how he feels about the film as an adaptation, as a masterpiece of cinema, it is ubiquitous and it exists in the imagination of so many people."
"I said: 'Instead of looking at this as sequel to The Shining, what if this is a descendant of The Shining? And like any kid, it has the genetics of its parents - in our case King and Kubrick - but it also needs to find its own way in the world.'"
King was convinced. So get ready to return to the Overlook Hotel.
"If he hadn't given his blessing, I wouldn't have made the film," admits Flanagan. "But he did and then he backed off, which he often does with his adaptations because he doesn't want to intrude. The trade-off is that if he doesn't like it, he'll say so. Which is what happened to Kubrick."
In Doctor Sleep, we meet the adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor), who as a little boy was chased around the Overlook by his axe-wielding father in The Shining.
After his long-suppressed psychic abilities re-emerge, Dan's fate becomes intertwined with that of a young girl named Abra (Kyleigh Curran), whose own superlative powers have made her the target of a vicious band of wanderers who feed on other people's "shine".
"Abra doesn't care about the Overlook Hotel," explains Flanagan. "She is the eyes into this whole world I think for a lot of viewers who haven't seen The Shining."
Beloved Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis has a prominent role as Dan's friend, Billy Freeman.
"I've loved Cliff Curtis for many years," says Flanagan.
"He disappears so completely into the characters he plays. You look at Cliff in Training Day and you look at him in Fear The Walking Dead and it's like, is this the same person? He's a chameleon. He took a character that could just be kind of 'the friend' and made it an endearing and important cog of this film."
The Shining is one of the most scrutinised films of all time and many have long speculated that Kubrick layered it with hidden messages. One being an admission that he faked the moon landing. A grinning Flanagan admits to inserting a few Easter eggs of his own into Doctor Sleep.
"There's stuff in there. I don't have the level of sophistication that Kubrick has but I wanted to put little things in there that could spark conversations and reward repeat viewings. I didn't want to make anyone think I'd faked the Mars Rover or anything."
As much as Doctor Sleep is being sold as a Shining follow-up, Flanagan says he was able to rationalise the enormity of that task by focusing on the new elements.
"I had this other story I had to tell that had nothing to do with Kubrick. Dan's and Abra's story, that Kubrick never took a swing at whatsoever, that wasn't even a gleam in King's eye when he wrote The Shining. This new story needed to be honoured, and told properly."
Who: Writer/director Mike Flanagan
What: Doctor Sleep
When: In cinemas today