Doctor Sleep: The 5 Major Differences Between the Book and the Movie

"Doctor Sleep” (released in theaters Nov. 8) is receiving mixed reviews from critics. And that’s because it’s a mixed bag of a movie. It’s both a sequel to Stephen King’s iconic 1977 novel “The Shining” as well as a follow-up to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film. While trying to remain true to the source material of the 2013 book on which its based, it simultaneously attempts to pay homage to both Kubrick and King, and the result is a motley hodgepodge of both creator’s visions.

Despite King’s notorious abhorrence of the Kubrick film, “Doctor Sleep,” directed by Mike Flanagan (“The Haunting of Hill House,” “Hush”), got the author’s stamp of approval, with King even going so far as to say “Doctor Sleep” “redeemed” everything he disliked about the Kubrick version.

But for those who didn’t read the book, or are hesitant to check out the movie, here are the five major differences between “Doctor Sleep” the novel and “Doctor Sleep” the film.

1. The Overlook Hotel Plays a Bigger Part in the Film

At the end of King’s novel “The Shining,” the haunted Overlook Hotel burns to the ground after the boiler explodes, but since Kubrick’s film left the Colorado hotel standing, the final act of the “Doctor Sleep” movie becomes an overstuffed tribute to its ghosts, quotes and other iconography in a series of nods, winks and overt references. It’s still the setting of Dan and Abra’s final showdown with Rose the Hat, only the book had them fighting on its burnt remains.

2. Rose the Hat Dies Differently in the Novel

The villain of “Doctor Sleep,” called “Rose the Hat” by the evil group the True Knot, is more than a fedora-toting style icon. She’s a psychic force to be reckoned with. Near the end of the movie, she dies after Dan releases the ghosts of the Overlook and they consume her Shine. In the book, however, Dan just...pushes her off an observation platform and she falls to her death. At the very least, the movie interpretation improved that much.

3. Abra’s Great Grandma is a Crucial Character in the Book

Concetta Reynolds, Abra’s cheeky Italian grandma, gets a name-drop in the movie but is robbed of an actual appearance. In the novel, as she is dying of cancer, Dan helps her pass on with his Shining. Later, in the fight against Rose and the True Knot, Concetta’s spirit appears to help Abra and Dan kill the steam-sucking immortals. While the movie still made sense without her, you can’t help but feel bad for Abra as three of her close family members die throughout the film.

4. Dan, Billy and Abra’s Father Don’t Die in the Novel

Daniel Anthony Torrance was just “the little boy from ‘The Shining’” before King wrote “Doctor Sleep” to explain what happened to the grown-up Dan. Like his father, he battled decades of alcoholism. Unlike his father, he went to AA, cleaned up and started his life over. To the moviemakers, Dan’s redemption arc must have seemed trivial, because they kill him off at the very end as some kind of attempt at poetic justice or surprising the audience. They also kill his friend, Billy Freeman, and Abra’s father Dave, neither of whom die in the novel.

5. The Biggest Plot Twist of the Book Goes Unmentioned in the Movie

Throughout the novel, Abra affectionately refers to Danny Torrance as “Uncle Dan” as a cover for their meetings. Toward the end, however, it’s revealed to the reader that he’s her actual uncle. Well. half-uncle. Turns out, Jack Torrance had an affair with his teaching assistant, which led to the birth of Abra’s mother and Dan’s half-sister. This major reveal was somehow entirely omitted from the movie, and yes, we’re sour about it.


“Doctor Sleep” is now playing in theaters nationwide.