Danny Torrance Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep
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Credit: Warner Bros.

New 3-hour cut of Doctor Sleep shines a brighter light on its characters' backstories

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Jan 22, 2020

For those of you who enjoyed the film Doctor Sleep but thought — at two-and-a-half hours — that it was just too short, you’re in luck! Warner Bros. has released a three-hour director’s cut of the film, available to stream now.

So what exactly is in it, and what does it reveal that we didn't see in theaters? In addition to new chapter headings (such as "CHAPTER ONE - OLD GHOSTS" and "CHAPTER TWO - EMPTY DEVILS"), this fuller, richer, and longer version of Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Stephen King's novel goes deeper with its main characters, allowing viewers to learn more about Dan Torrance's (Ewan McGregor) attempts to escape his literal and metaphorical demons and come to terms with his complicated feelings toward his late father, Jack. (True, the man did tried to kill Dan with an ax when he was 5. But more and more, Dan is realizing that he is indeed his father's son.)

Doctor Sleep serves as a sequel to both the novel and film of The Shining, and — with those 30 extra minutes — the director's cut  doesn't scrimp on character development. A new introductory scene with young Abra (Kyliegh Curran) further enhances the idea that her powers have alienated her from her parents ever since she was a small child. Meanwhile, extended scenes between Rebecca Ferguson's Rose the Hat and Zahn McClarnon's Crow Daddy from The Knot add to Rose's personal obsession with hunting down Abra and The Knot's desperation to find more life-sustaining steam from Abra (or any child with the shine). 

Ultimately, there are very few new or added scenes per se in this version, although there are some, such as a new scene introducing Abra playing the piano and an added scene in the red bathroom in the Overlook between Dan and the ghost of his father.

The bulk of the additions, however, come from extending and reediting scenes. Conversations between Dick Hallorann and Danny are longer. The scene where Dan gets drunk at a bar in New Jersey in 2011 and sneaks out from his one-night stand after taking her cash the morning after is longer (this sequence also adds a beat in which Dick lets Dan know that, while he can bury those creepy monsters from the Overlook alive, he can't bury bad memories or bad behavior the same way). And all the changes are seamless.

Credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

When this extended cut was originally announced, Flanagan admitted that this three-hour version was never intended to be released theatrically. Heck, even critics noted that the theatrical cut was already overly long. Despite that, Flanagan said that there was material he had cut from the theatrical version that he couldn't stop thinking about. 

The result is a fuller version of the film that takes its time getting to know its main characters ... even if that means it takes nearly a full hour before Abra first reaches out to Dan. 

The Director's Cut of Doctor Sleep is available to stream now. It will be available to buy on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on Feb. 4.

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