The Stephen King Death Scene So Terrifying Even He Couldn’t Watch It

By Charlene Badasie | Published

doctor sleep

Stephen King is arguably the unrivaled master of weaving tales that elicit spine-chilling thrills. But in the 2019 adaptation of his novel Doctor Sleep, there was a disturbing moment even the maestro found it difficult to watch. The ominous scene is the death sequence of the “baseball boy” whom Jacob Tremblay portrayed in the on-screen retelling of the Stephen King story.

The Death of Baseball Boy

doctor sleep

Tremblay makes a cameo appearance as Bradley Trevor, a victim of Rose the Hat’s True Knot, a group of psychic vampires who feed on the “steam” emitted by individuals with psychic abilities, particularly those who shine. Although the Doctor Sleep scene is short, the actor’s performance was so intense that, like Stephen King, even the adult actors in the vicinity struggled to endure it.

Before I Wake

Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan discussed the “Baseball Scene” from Doctor Sleep in Shudder’s 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All-Time documentary. He emphasizes the challenge of adapting Stephen King’s novel as the once mysterious villains now reveal their true, sinister nature, showcasing how they feed on their prey.

Flanagan chose Jacob Tremblay for the role as they had previously worked together on the 2016 film Before I Wake, and the filmmaker was confident the young actor could pull it off. Tremblay’s portrayal of the Baseball Boy’s death scene in Doctor Sleep is not characterized by explicit horror and gore but is undeniably unsettling due to Tremblay alone.

For Many, The Scene Was Too Much

Doctor Sleep

As the True Knot binds and holds a knife to his body, Tremblay convincingly conveys the terror of his character, pleading to be released. When the True Knot stabs him, Tremblay’s screams are haunting as the group inhales the steam emanating from his dying breath. Another aspect that sets this Doctor Sleep scene apart is its refusal to let viewers detach from the agony experienced by the young victim.

Flanagan deliberately zooms in and prolongs the moment, confronting the audience with the primal torment endured by the child. According to Flanagan, Stephen King even suggested the scene was too much. The filmmaker also revealed that studio executives walked out during a screening, and the True Knot actors were visibly affected.

Tremblay Was Fine

Despite the traumatic nature of the scene, Jacob Tremblay was unaffected. While those around him were moved to tears, Tremblay, covered in fake blood, ran over to his father and high-fived him. The youngster then headed to craft services for a snack, reveling in the success of his impactful Doctor Sleep performance.

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film, The Shining. Ewan McGregor takes on the role of an adult, Dan Torrance, with psychic abilities and a troubled history, haunted by the traumatic events at the Overlook Hotel. The story also introduces new characters who join forces with Dan to confront Rose the Hat and her cohort of followers.

The Reception

Doctor Sleep premiered at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles in October 2019. Critical reception was generally positive, with praise for Flanagan’s direction, the screenplay, and the performances of the cast. However, some expressed reservations about the movie’s length. Despite earning $72.3 million, its box office performance was considered underwhelming compared to other Stephen King adaptations.