CASTLE ROCK - SEASON 1 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ANDRE HOLLAND, MELANIE LYNSKEY, BILL SKARSGARD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
With J.J. Abrams and Stephen King producing, right away expectations are unsurprisingly high based on both of their many past outputs and award-winning contributions to storytelling. Castle Rock is a crumbling jigsaw that you don't want to live in, and the creators have made it their mission to make you aware of this right from the outset. With its grainy, run down image, combined with the notion that there's just a complete nightmare scenario waiting around every corner, it's a show that loudly displays its horror warning signs.
Brought back to his hometown to represent a client known as The Kid (Bill Skarsgård), who was found imprisoned in an uncharted hatch in the deep dwellings of Shawshank Prison, death row attorney Henry Deaver (André Holland) is about to take a horrendous trip down memory lane. As the episodes go on and unbelievable revelations collide, we go deep into Henry's past as he greets family, and old friends. Obviously, the historic Shawshank Prison being an epic one to start with and you will be surrounded by irresistible Stephen King Easter eggs that fans of his will feast on. Thankfully, Castle Rock doesn't just rely on previous King achievements to hold its own, and with a slow brewing but well maintained story, it gets better with each episode. It becomes its own monster.
Once again having the darkest time at the bottom of a hatch (Lost fans can relate), Terry O' Quinn is an ideal addition that must be mentioned. Dale Lacy is the first and maybe most definitive example of why this town is just pasted in terror. His narration and input throughout keep the show satisfyingly interlocked. Seeing an alternative freaky side to Bill Skarsgård is much welcomed. Known to most for his disturbed and next level take on Pennywise, he steps back into a comforting King atmosphere to deliver an unsettling performance.
Episode 7 is probably the most heartbreaking and memorable hour of the whole first series. As dementia-torn parent of Henry, Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek) takes us on an emotional look back through time, a crucial endeavour that's full to the top with gripping acting work. By the end of it, you will feel like you actually live in Castle Rock.
There's devil work at play in every part of Castle Rock, and we get a harsh and, at times, bloody look at it due to our lead Henry Deaver (André Holland). As he tries to piece together an annoyingly forgotten and haunting youth, life changing secrets simmer to the top and put him to the test. Not fully knowing everything about Henry is a simple but effective concept that André harnesses well, and his unpredictable delivery is right at home here.
Although the dirt-coated crumbs to follow are much more interesting than the way the characters are eventually left in the end, you'll still be content with wild theories rattling around your head for years to come. These, similar to one of J.J. Abraham's finest moments, Lost, will add a coat of longevity. Castle Rock is worth the visit, if you dare.