Everything you need to know about Hulu’s ‘Castle Rock’
In what could arguably be the most ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s work to date, Hulu’s upcoming horror anthology series Castle Rock isn’t just based on a singular novel of the prolific writer’s – it’s one that synthesizes elements from many of his works to bring together characters and storylines and put them in King’s fave haunting spot: the quiet Maine town of Castle Rock.
In weaving together the so-called Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock sounds every bit a gripping drama teamed together with a bingeworthy Easter egg hunt, as King fanatics will be tasked with picking up all the references that have been planted throughout its ten episodes. With the show hitting Hulu later this month, we thought we’d take a look at everything you need to know about this spooky, supernatural new series ahead of its release.
It’s helmed by a solid crew
The birth of Castle Rock involved a collaboration between King and executive producer J.J. Abrams, who produced a film you may or may not have heard of called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No biggie! He’s also been at the helm of Lost, Star Trek, and exec produced Hulu’s first King show, 11.22.63. Suffice to say, Abrams knows what he’s doing when it comes to taking pre-existing stories and reshaping them into unique works of their own.
Also behind the project are creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason – two self-confessed King obsessives who kicked around with the Castle Rock idea nearly a decade ago. But as the pair revealed in an interview with Variety, it wasn’t until they teamed up with Abram’s production company Bad Robot and Warner Bros. that they were able to get the greenlight and figure out a deal with the author. “He was flexible and gave us great license,” Shaw said of King.
Bill Skarsgård returns, but not as Pennywise
Per Hulu’s description of the show: “A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine.” With regards to the actual cast, you will have seen from the trailer a little-known actor named Bill Skarsgård, who will feature in what is his second King-based project.
You will also see from the trailer that he’s not reprising his role as Pennywise the clown. Instead, the Swedish actor will play a quiet and evidently disturbed young prisoner at the Shawshank Penitentiary. That said, you will see a reference to It in the trailer when a group of laughing kids let go of a bunch of colorful balloons. Does this mean Pennywise will show up at some point? We’ll soon find out!
Castle Rock’s central character is played by Andre Holland (Moonlight), who takes the role of Henry Deaver – a defense attorney working in Texas who’s lured back to his home town by an unexplained call for help. This call for help involves Skarsgård’s prisoner, who plays a pivotal role in Henry’s return. When he’s back, Henry is faced with ghosts from his past including: an old neighbor (Melanie Lynskey); his mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek); and her friend (who sometimes stays the night) Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn). Early reviews express high praise for the core cast, particularly for Holland who IndieWire said “does not disappoint.”
It’s set in King’s fave fictional town
As ya’ll know from the name, the anthology series is set in the fictional Maine town of Castle Rock – a town that King has featured prominently throughout his writing career. Numerous stories either contain references or are set at Castle Rock, including: Cujo, The Dark Half, It, and Needful Things, in addition to the novella The Body and various short stories including Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption.
The town first appeared in the 1979 novel The Dead Zone, and has reappeared as late as his 2014 novel Revival. With so many references over so much of King’s work, it would seem Castle Rock is the perfect setting for Abrams, Shaw, and Thomason to base this culmination of King’s characters and stories.
It looks set to provide compelling new narratives and avoid nostalgic tropes
You could argue Castle Rock is simply chiming in on the King trend of late, what with the recent adaptations of It, 1922, Gerald’s Game, and Mr. Mercedes. It would be easy to capitalize on the literary works we’re familiar with and polish them up with shiny, new actors. But as many of the early reviews point out, Castle Rock has done something fresh and new with King’s narratives and offers its viewers something more than a superficial Easter egg hunt.
IndieWire’s Ben Travers wrote: “Castle Rock extricates itself from nostalgic traps while capitalizing on past stories to create a compelling new narrative filled with mysteries worthy of their muse,” adding, “After all, a mystery shouldn’t be repurposing old stories to shock you; its climaxes need to come out of nowhere, and Castle Rock builds them well.” Elsewhere, The Daily Beast’s Nick Schager divulged that even in its first four episodes (which were all that was provided to press), “Castle Rock is rife with beguiling narrative threads . . . it delivers routinely suspenseful revelations and set pieces even as it takes its creeping-death time developing its characters and scenario, all in order to build toward some greater horror.”
There’ll be more than one season
Although season one has not dropped yet, there are already talks of further seasons that will reportedly tell new tales with different characters, but will all be set in the same interconnected universe. “Each season may or may not feature the same cast. It’s the story of the town – and there’s a church and there are houses, and that will not change,” Bad Robot’s TV chief Ben Stephenson told The Hollywood Reporter. “But each (season) will look at the town from a different point of view from a different character.”
When’s it out?
Season one will consist of ten episodes and will premiere on July 25, folks – get it in the datebook and prepare to be spooked!