Hulu's "Castle Rock" Delivers All The Classic Stephen King Twists & Chills!
Decades after his first spooky story, Stephen King’s legendary tales continue to haunt us all. With IT scaring the daylights out of all of us last summer, and, at least for me, The Shining ruining any and all quaint, quiet hotels for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say Stephen King still has power over his viewers. That power is now being wielded in a new Hulu original, “Castle Rock”. This new series is based on the Stephen King universe, but is not tied to any specific book, vignette, movie, or miniseries. I have a feeling you stopped reading this once you read “Stephen King universe” (or "The Kingematic Universe" as another writer puts it) and went to watch "Castle Rock" immediately. If you’re still with me, here’s some background...
"Castle Rock" is following in the footsteps "American Horror Story" with its decision to operate as an anthology series, which means that each season will feature new stories and characters. Will they be tied together in the end, as is speculated with "AHS"? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. Stephen King has given his blessing to the show (and access to all his work, obviously), but he has had no part in the actual making of "Castle Rock". It’s up to producer J.J. Abrams, and various writers and directors, to decide what to do with the many storylines available, and to create new ones. They seem to have decided to mostly do the latter, since "Castle Rock" is set in 2018, whereas most of King’s stories are set in the past.
"Castle Rock" starts with the return of lawyer Henry Deaver, played by Andre Holland, whom you might recognize from "AHS: Roanoke". Deaver is a local legend in Castle Rock, because he disappeared for eleven days when he was eleven years old, and has never been able to say where he was or how he survived. He returns to Castle Rock to visit Shawshank Prison (yep, that Shawshank) when he hears of the Kid -- a boy who was held captive in the prison by the Warden (who himself just committed suicide for unknown reasons). When the Kid is found, he tells the guards his name is Henry Deaver. Intrigued yet? The Kid is played by none other than Bill Skarsgard, aka Pennywise himself! Except he’s not IT at all in this one, apparently. "Castle Rock" actually features a few actors from previous Stephen King movies playing totally new characters (allegedly), including Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in the chilling 1976 movie Carrie* and now plays Ruth Deaver, Henry’s adoptive mother. Viewers galore are theorizing about just how many characters and elements from King’s stories will play a part in “Castle Rock”. For example, new character Jackie Torrance, who seems to know a lot about Castle Rock’s history, shares a last name with Jack Torrance, the man who went crazy in a hotel called The Overlook way back in the day. Clearly, "Castle Rock" contains tons of Easter eggs that true fans will be able to spot. Even if they don’t turn into storylines, you’ll surely enjoy catching all the chilling references.
(*Sharp-eyed King fans will notice an homage to Carrie at the end of Episode 5!)
The stellar cast also includes Jane Levy ("Suburgatory"), Scott Glenn ("The Defenders"), Melanie Lynskey ("Two and a Half Men"), Ann Cusack ("Better Call Saul"), and John Locke himself, Terry O'Quinn ("Lost").
The first few episodes are a slow burn, and coming from J.J. Abrams, who helped produce "Lost", you can expect more mysteries to unravel before any are solved. Already, though, there’s been some twists and shocking moments that I definitely can’t give away. I will say that there may be a supernatural element, like many of King’s stories are known for. The town itself in 2018 is creepy and decaying, and its dark past must be partly to blame. The first four episodes are available now on Hulu, with a new episode premiering every Wednesday. You can catch this original take on a classic master of horror now, but maybe stick to watching during daylight hours.
(Image via Hulu)
- Meg Spaulding, YH Contributing Writer