Stephen King’s literature-to-screen conversion rate is one of the highest, rivaling the Bible itself. His influence on popular culture cannot begin to be measured whether it’s in his figures of terror like It‘s Pennywise or CarrieÂ (bothÂ adapted forÂ film and tvÂ multipleÂ times);Â iconic nightmare scenarios like Paul Sheldon’s captivity in MiseryÂ (viewable on film or as a live theatre adaptation); or the relatable devastation of the coming-of-age chronicled inÂ The Body which spawned the filmÂ Stand By Me (1986).
Much of his skill in drawing us in is the sense of place he builds. Syfy network aired five seasons around the coastal town of Haven, Maine, loosely based on King’s mystery novelÂ The Colorado Kid. Another King elementÂ Haven played with was the idea of the Monkey’s Paw wish – incredible powers gone horribly wrong, what Haven residents termed “The Troubles” – a theme central to the novel Needful Things (also adapted for film in 1993).
Interestingly enough, at publication, the novelÂ Needful ThingsÂ was touted as “The Last Castle Rock Story” (which it wasn’t) pointing out just how much the well-known geography mattered to King’s readers. Over a dozen narratives are physically situated in the town while at least another two dozen make specific reference to it.
Hulu is banking on the inherent tension of King’s own Hellsmouth to drive the story of death row lawyer Henry Deavers (AndrÃ© Holland,Â The Knick) called back to his childhood home to aid a nameless inmate (Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd, Hemlock Grove) found in a cage in the infamous Shawshank Prison, twenty miles outside of Castle Rock.
The Stephen King easter eggs (now wouldn’t THAT be an amazing marketing opportunity?) are thick in every shot and scene as Henry returns to the town (which isn’t even a town anymore) where everyone calls him “Killer” but his own mother (played by none other than Carrie herselfÂ Sissy Spacek!) doesn’t recognize him at first.
Other major players that may ring a bell are the ex-sheriff, Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn, The Defenders), real estate queen (and young Henry’s number one fan) Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey, Rose Red), and recently retired Warden Dale Lacey (Terry O’Quinn, 666 Park Avenue).
If you pay close attention, in just the first four episodes, there are casual references to multiple King stories including “that body found down by the tracks” and dog attacks. Also, in case you missed the most recent King connection, our unnamed Shawshank inmate was JUST on the big screen (and will be again) as Pennywise in It.
This is a town mired in mystery and riddled with secrets. Henry’s past is a palpable presence as he interacts with the Castle Rock inhabitants. There are unanswered questions about more than just a boy in a cage (although that would’ve been enough really) and, even in broad daylight, Castle Rock is a shadowy and dangerous place.
Hulu doesn’t shy away from bloody and violent scenes but what really strikes the chord of distress psychologically is the very grotesqueness of the humanity presented. Furthermore, the musical score does NOTHING to reassure the viewer of any redemptive nature either.
An elegant interweaving of flashbacks and present deepens the history of damage in Castle Rock. The terrors Henry and Molly face are not new developments by any means.
It would be no exaggeration to claim that Castle Rock shelters some malevolent, possibly supernatural, force of darkness but every act of cruelty and desperationÂ is carried out by completely mortal hands and with some complicit intention or motivation. Whether it’s a means to an end or simply the best of many terrible options, the people of Castle Rock actualize the horrors we witness.
It seems a given that Henry will root out the truths of his past as well as what Warden Lacey’s hidden legacy truly entails but it’s unlikely that anyone comes out unscathed. But in a town where “the only thing anyone contemplates is suicide,” survival may be all one can hope for.
Castle RockÂ premieres on Hulu on July 25.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…