(Major spoiler alert: This article directly discusses several plot and story elements in “Doctor Sleep.” If you haven’t seen the movie, do not read on.)
Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” is a terrifying film about loss, sobriety and PTSD, but for the filmmaker and star Rebecca Ferguson, there was one scene in particular that shook them to the core.
Yes, we are talking about the scene with Jacob Tremblay, who plays a young boy kidnapped by the Rose the Hat (Ferguson) and the True Knot. The boy is taken to a construction site and brutally murdered by Rose and Knot so they can inhale his steam and stay young longer. This particular scene proved very difficult for Ferguson to film, and left the cast and crew speechless.
“Someone said to me, because I have a 12-year-old son, he said, ‘is this going to be difficult for you?’ And I remember thinking — so stupid — ‘I’m an actor, for God’s sake. No, it’s not going to be bloody hard,'” Ferguson told TheWrap at the film’s junket. “I’ve never gone into a character in a way that has been difficult or hard. I’ve wanted to, it’s been sort of what I’m searching towards. [Then I heard] Action!… And I hear the scream. And I’m not kidding you, I just freeze, and I start crying…. It was so horrendous and I was so shocked, even talking about it, by his performance.”
She added, “He made the scene believable. Doing whatever you need to do go beyond measures and cruelty is one thing, but receiving it and making it real, that’s fantastic. And I walked up to the person afterwards, and I said, ‘I’ll take it all back.’ I guess this is what acting is.”
Flanagan added that he shot more versions of that scene than any other scene in the film. During test screenings, he added, many people asked him whether there was a version of the film in which the violent murder could be heard off-screen, so that audiences didn’t need to see the brutality.
‘There isn’t,” he explained. “It’s critical, not only to the True Knot, but it’s the entire engine for Abra and Danny. And without it… you need an equal and opposite reaction to that scene. It’s horrible.”
“Doctor Sleep” also stars Ewan McGregor and Kyliegh Curran and takes place 40 years after the events of “The Shining.” Flanagan wrote and directed the film.
All 44 Stephen King Movies, Ranked Worst to Best (Photos)
Where does “Doctor Sleep” place among the many big-screen adaptations of the horror master’s work?
Stephen King isn't just an author by this point: He's an institution, a legacy of classic horror stories that capture our imaginations, fuel our nightmares, and speak -- when he's at his best -- to our shared experiences as flawed, emotional beings. The best King stories scare so many of us that we all feel connected, and even the worst are usually pretty fun.
King's books and short stories quickly became hit movies, many of them celebrated in their time, and some flopped so hard that hardly anybody remembers them. Cataloguing every adaptation might be a fool's errand, so we made some tough choices and decided to focus only on his theatrical releases.
And even then, there are so many King adaptations that it gets tricky. The sequels to King's work rarely have anything to do with the source material, so they're all disqualified (even though some, like Larry Cohen's prescient anti-fascist monster drama "A Return to Salem's Lot," are genuinely interesting). We also cut King some slack and removed "The Lawnmower Man" from our watch list, since he fought to have his own name removed from the film and won.
(There are also some adaptations that are simply difficult to find in America, like the Indian adaptions of "Misery" and "Quitter's, Inc." -- "Julie Ganapathi" and "No Smoking" -- but we tried. We promise we tried.)
Even with all those caveats we felt one particular film deserved a quasi-official, honorable mention. Before we rank into every theatrically-released Stephen King adaptation let's give out one honorable mention...