Doctor Sleep: Plot And Ending Explained

Doctor Sleep is a 2019 psychological horror sequel to the movie The Shining based on the book by the same name. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan, who’s brought us Gerald’s Game and Oculus. It stars Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson in the leading roles. The film follows Danny’s life decades after The Shining’s events. Do give this one a watch and also check out my article on The Shining for more details. Here’s the plot and ending of the movie Doctor Sleep explained; spoilers ahead.

Check out the podcast for this episode that covers both The Shining and Doctor Sleep:

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

Doctor Sleep continues months after the events of The Shining. Danny and his mother, Wendy, now live in Florida, as far away as possible from snow. However, because Danny entered Room 237, he is haunted by many of the ghosts from the Overlook.

Doctor Sleep: What is the Shine?

The Shine refers to the psychic ability that certain characters possess, similar to its portrayal in the original novel and movie adaptation of The Shining. The Shine is depicted as a form of extrasensory perception, causing people to have telepathic and clairvoyant powers.

Who is Dick Hallorann in Doctor Sleep?

Though Jack murders Dick inside the Overlook (in The Shining), he is not consumed by the hotel, possibly because his Shine is far too powerful. In his spirit form, Dick continues to mentor Danny.

What are the boxes?

Doctor Sleep: What Is In The Boxes

Dick teaches Danny how to lock the ghosts from Overlook into psychic containers in deep corners of Danny’s mind. What this effectively means is that all of the ghosts are incapacitated because of the psychic hold Danny exerts on them with his subconscious mind. Yes, he’s that powerful because he keeps them locked away for years despite taking to alcohol.

What is Steam in Doctor Sleep?

Steam is the psychic essence or life force emitted by people who Shine. It is visually presented to look like water vapour. The energy of this Steam is far more when victims are scared or experiencing intense emotions, making them more attractive targets for the bad guys.

Doctor Sleep: What are the bad guys?

Doctor Sleep: what are the bad guys?

The True Knot is a vampiresque group of psychics who feed on the Steam of people with Shine, especially young kids. Steam is a potent and intoxicating sustenance that extends their longevity and enhances their abilities. They feed on their victim’s Steam by torturing and killing them as they consume the psychic energy. Over the years, Steam has become rare as people don’t Shine like before. It’s interesting how they blame it on cell phones, diet and Netflix!

How old is grandpa flick?

Given Rose talks about Grandpa Flick cheering the gladiators of Rome, he is at least 2000 years old. 

Doctor Sleep: What is Rose The Hat?

Rose is a very old and powerful vampiresque psychic who leads the True Knot. She senses and locates kids with the Shine. After consuming their Steam, Rose has the ability to store excess Steam in specialized canisters that serve as food for the group over long periods. Rose decides if her target needs to be consumed or converted to one of them and has the power to transform to add people to the True Knot.

How old is Rose The Hat?

Rose The Hat could be well over 2000 years. Rose is more powerful than Grandpa Flick, so it is possible that though she appears younger than him, she is older as she can consume the Steam more efficiently. 

Doctor Sleep: Plot Explained

The film begins with Danny getting mentored by Dick, who teaches Danny to box away all the Overlook ghosts. While Danny might have had a near-normal childhood with a loving mother, somewhere down the line, he grows up to become an alcoholic just like his father, Jack. Danny, too, drinks to dull his Shining, to dull the voices in his head.

What happened to Violet?

Doctor Sleep: what happened to Violet?

Violet was killed and consumed by the True Knot. The movie introduces Rose The Hat and her gang when we see a young girl, Violet, wander to pick flowers. Violet has Shine and hence becomes a target. While not shown in the film, Rose and the gang abduct her and consume her Steam.

What happened to the baby? Did the woman and the baby die?

Yes, they both die. Dan ends up having a one-night stand with a woman, and they both get very high on coke. The following day, Dan wakes up in her house, notices she has a baby, takes her money and leaves. The woman dies from an overdose, and her baby is left crying. Since the neighbours are used to constantly hearing the baby cry, they don’t do anything. We know this because the woman in her ghost form later reaches out to Dan for help, but he’s moved to another city by then.

Why is he called Doctor Sleep?

Danny meets Billy, who helps Dan and inducts him into Alcoholics Anonymous. He gets better and becomes a hospice orderly. Dan uses his Shine to help ease the transition for dying patients by connecting with them, offering them solace and guiding them through the process of death, making their passing as peaceful as possible. This earns him the nickname Doctor Sleep.

Who is Snakebite Andi?

Who is Snakebite Andi?

Andi is a young girl who has powers of persuasion. She uses her powers to lure pedophiles to her using the internet and then robs them by putting them to sleep. She then scars their face with her blade and forces her targets to remember a snake bite every time they try to hook up with an underaged girl.

The True Knot locates her and offers her to join them, and she does. A point to note is had she not taken up the offer, they would have killed and consumed her.

Who is Abra?

Abra is a young girl with a very powerful Shine. Along with telepathic abilities, she is also a telekinetic and can move things with her mind. Danny and Abra begin communicating on Dan’s wall and keep in touch for 8 years. For a long time, Abra believes Dan is her imaginary friend.


Brad, a young psychic, becomes the next target of the True Knot. When they torture and consume him, Abra feels each dying breath. Rose senses Abra’s presence too. Abra communicates this to Dan on his wall in the same way Tony does in The Shining – REDRUM. 

Abra searches on the internet to locate Brad’s photo, which she then uses to access his memories to locate where they took him. She also enters Rose’s head to find where she is. Rose senses Abra’s presence and tries to enter her mind, and Abra flings her out, proving that she is mightier than Rose.

After that, Abra finds Dan and asks him to locate Brad’s body, but Dan asks her to stay away from the True Knot for her own good. Dick’s ghost returns after years to tell Dan that he needs to help and mentor Abra just like Dick mentored Dan. It’s a debt he must pay.

Abra’s Trap

Abra's trap for Rose The Hat

Rose underestimates Abra and telepathically enters her home and mind, only to be trapped there while Abra access and steals information about all the members of the True Knot. Abra’s psychic hold on Rose is so intense that her hand gets physically injured. Grandpa Flick dies from the shortage of Steam, so the team makes it their mission to hunt down Abra, so she’ll become a gigantic supply of food for them. Rose stays back while the rest leave.

Finding Brad and taking out the Knot

Dan tells Billy about his powers and takes him to find Brad’s body with Abra’s guidance. Billy and Dan are overwhelmed when they find Brad and decide to hunt the Knot down. Dan gets Abra to lure the True Knot to the woods, where he and Billy wait with riffles. From their cover, they shoot and kill most of the True Knot. Andi survives and uses her powers to force Dan into sleep, but Billy shoots her. Before Dan can warn Billy, the dying Andi users her powers of persuasion to get Billy to kill himself.

The second in command, Crow Daddy, suspects foul play, uses his psychic powers to find the actual location of Abra, kills her father and drugs, and kidnaps her. Dan returns home and focuses on psychically locating Abra, although she is very faint.

How do Abra and Dan kill Crow Daddy?

Crow Daddy drugs Abra and blocks her residual Shining with his powers. So Danny enters her mind and takes control of her powers. Crow doesn’t realize Dan’s strength and only continues to block Abra. Dan uses Abra’s telekinesis to swerve the van onto a tree. Given Crow is not wearing a seat belt, he gets hurled out and killed.

The Overlook Hotel

Overlook Hotel Abra Danny vs Rose

Rose preps by consuming all the Steam she has and heads over to take down Abra. Dan realizes there is no defeating Rose, so he takes the final battle to the Overlook Hotel, as he knows that place feeds on anyone with powers, including Rose. Upon reaching the place, Dan heads to the boiler room and opens all the valves as he plans to burn the hotel down.

Dan meets with his father’s ghost (Jack Torrence), who is eternally trapped in the hotel and now believes he is Lloyd, the bartender. Jack coaxes Dan to have a drink. Now remember, there is no drink at the hotel; this is just the Overlook asking Dan to drop his guard to it can consume him. Dan refuses the temptation, something that Jack couldn’t do years ago.

Taking Down Rose The Hat – Attempt 1

In their first attempt, Dan and Abra combine their powers to place Rose inside Dan’s mind in the Hedge Maze. Abra takes Rose deeper into the maze and, therefore, Dan’s subconsciousness. This scene is a homage to The Shining and is quite nostalgic. Rose mistakes it to be Abra’s mind. Abra attacks and keeps Rose distracted while Dan tries to trap Rose in one of his boxes. Rose realizes the trap and breaks out of the hold.

Taking Down Rose The Hat – Attempt 2

Dan moves to Plan B, where he plans to release his hold on all the ghosts of Overlook. To give enough head start for Abra, Dan fights Rose with an axe which she uses to cut his femoral artery in the thigh. Rose begins consuming Dan’s Steam, and he allows for this as he needs her to get into his head and notice the locked-up boxes, and she does. Dan releases his hold, and all the hotel ghosts emerge and consume Rose. Dan is too weak; they attack him, and he gets possessed by the Overlook. 

Here’s Danny!

With an axe, he chases after Abra, reminiscent of Jack chasing Danny in The Shining. The hotel, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. Abra runs into Room 237, reaches out to Dan’s subconsciousness, and tries to see if she can save him. But the Overlook has him, so Abra talks about how Dan went to the boiler room first and the hotel is set to blow up. Abra makes a run for it, and Dan, controlled by the Overlook, heads to the boiler room to stop the catastrophe. But Dan is strong enough to resist the force of the Overlook and backs away from the valve, causing the hotel to go up in flames.

Doctor Sleep: Ending Explained

The ending of Doctor Sleep shows us that Dan died along with the Overlook Hotel. However, he now communicates in his spirit form with Abra and will guide her just like Dick guided him. He also tells her to Shine brightly and fight the darkness. When Abra’s mom enters her room, she asks who Abra was talking to. Initially, Abra lies, saying no one, but immediately takes Dan’s advice and tells her mother the truth about talking to Dan and being able to talk to her father as well.

The final scene shows that the old lady from 237 somehow survived even though the hotel burned down. But Abra knows the box trick and enters the bathroom to lock up the old woman with her psychic hold.

Why did Dan die?

Dan was struck in the femoral artery by Rose The Hat. He had bled out quite a bit, and there was no saving him. He knew that, so he stayed back in the boiler room and ensured it burned down the hotel. I believe Dan projects the vision of his mother comforting him as a child to shield him from the pain of the horrific death.

Does Abra die?

No, Abra makes it out safe and sound and hears the hotel burn and die. She is now well-equipped to take on darkness with the mentorship of Dan, who is now in the spirit realm.

That brings us to the end of this really well-made sequel. What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of the movie Doctor Sleep? Do drop your comments below.