With the release of Doctor Sleep fast approaching, the further continuation of the story of Danny Torrance from The Shining, we at HNE decided now might be the best time to start preparing for what they should expect from the upcoming adaptation.
Have no fear; there’s no spoilers ahead for Doctor Sleep outside of the basic plot premise outlined in the summary, but we at least want to answer the prevailing questions for those unfamiliar with the work: who are those weird, pale cult-like members running around in the trailers for the film?
Allow us to shed a little light; bridging the gap between both the original 1979 novel and 1980 Stanley Kubrick film, Doctor Sleep is the continuation of Danny Torrance’s story as he combats the demons in his head and takes on the challenge of helping a little girl with a power very much like his own by the name of Abra Stone. The ‘shining,’ a sort of psychic sense only gifted to a small assortment of people, connects both Danny and Abra over the years as she grows up, helping the two bond and reach out to each other on an emotional supportive level. This sense also allows Abra to reach out to other children much like her, which brings her into direct conflict with the central evil of this story; the True Knot.
Existing for countless decades, the True Knot is a nomadic, wandering group of immortal beings that have discovered the secret to eternal life, a secret that connects itself with the ‘shining.’ Under their leader, Rose the Hat, a transfixingly beautiful woman with a morbid and horrid duty for her people, the True Knot seek out this secret through select children who have the ability to ‘shine.’
Once they’ve identified and tracked a child with this power, they feed, subjecting them to excruciating torture so they can absorb the psychic traces from that agonizing pain. These traces they call “steam,” and it is the means by which they can achieve immortal life and continue to wander the world as ancient beings. When Rose the Hat sets her eyes on Abra, whose ‘shine’ is so powerful that she believes it can sustain her True Knot forever, it’s up to Danny to face his inner fears and demons to help Abra escape this horrid fate.
In addition to the True Knot being typically described as “ancient,” with stark white and whisping hair accentuating their hunched posture, they also have not been able to adjust accordingly to the modern worlds technology and research, something that puts them at a great disadvantage with their foe Danny Torrance, who uses this knowledge against them throughout the original novel.
While the film is set to follow the plot of King’s novel very closely, there is the notable exception of their appearance in the upcoming movie. Many will note that, despite their previous description as decrepit and ancient beings, the True Knot in this film seem much more youthful; there’s even some direct comparison to the youth of vampires in modern media today.
The Director of the adaptation, Mike Flanagan, cites a very specific reason for that, stating in an interview with CinemaBlend, “We’re taking them in a bit of a different direction. Because they went for the kind of kitschy, polyester, RV culture that I think might be funny if we were to present that literally. And so Rebecca [Ferguson] and the cast really helped shape this new, very weird, interesting and darker version of them that I think is going to be a pleasant surprise for a lot of fans of the book. Because, as cool as I thought it was in the story of these kind of silver-haired, plaid, geriatric vampires…it’s funny. And so, our cast is much younger because part of the appeal of that family as well, for me, is what if you can bring a family unit together like that with the promise of living young forever. Which is, I think, at the heart of all vampiric stories.”
Flanagan actually brings up a very good point; by establishing some central relationships between these antagonists based on this more youthful age, the audience might actually be able to associate these themes of doing right by family and our children when they are juxtaposed by the unlikely relationship between Danny and Abra. It’s a minor change, but one that I think can speak volumes for the material.
In addition to feasting on the psychic traces of children, the Top Knot actually possess some twisted power of their own, a dark and malevolent manifestation of psychic ability that one might interpret as their own ‘shine.’ This is mostly used to affect the perceptions of their victims, from creating hypnotic suggestions and impulses in people’s minds to hiding their presence so as to not be detected by their prey. This in conjunction with their morose and twisted desire to feed and torture makes them a formidable and dangerous enemy for Danny and Abra, as well as the rest of the world.
What do you think of psychic vampires and The Shining? Leave your comments down below and feel free to follow me at @LukeAdaVA on Twitter!

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