Hulu's Castle Rock enjoyed its world premiere at this year's San Diego Comic-Con and the audience was extremely receptive to the pilot, which was introduced by a pre-recorded message from producer J.J. Abrams.
Following the screening, the creators/executive producers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason (Manhattan) and stars Sissy Spacek (Carrie), Bill Skarsgard (It), Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness), and Jane Levy (Suburgatory) showed up for a panel to discuss the show and their favorite King works.
“It felt like Stephen King," said Spacek, describing the making of the series. "It felt like we were in that world. It felt like we were in the Stephen King universe where we belong.” When she later stated that Carrie is her favorite King novel, the audience went wild with applause.
According to Shaw, there was a balancing act between the "Mystery Box" storytelling of Abrams and the more overt horror and reveals contained within King's stories. His colleague, Thomason added that one of the greatest things about the writer, is that his books can start in one genre and end up in an entirely different one.
The upcoming series is a mishmash of Stephen King properties, all of which are thrown into the writer's fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Longtime fans of the horror author will spot references to books like Cujo, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Half, and more.
Opening in 1991, the pilot episode follows a young Alan Pangborn (the sheriff of Castle Rock) rescuing a young Henry Deaver from a frozen lake in a beautifully shot scene. Henry went missing for 11 days and many in the town believe that he killed his father. In the present day, the warden of Shawshank Prison (Terry O'Quinn) kills himself in a particularly gruesome suicide, hinting that he's got some secret to hide.
As the new warden takes over, a mysterious young man (Skarsgard) is found in the bowels of an unused block of the prison. He barely speaks, except uttering the words "Henry Matthew Deaver," who is now a capital punishment lawyer. If you thought Skarsgard was creepy in It, just you wait! Acting on an anonymous tip from Shawshank, an adult Henry (André Holland) returns home to find his father's remains are missing and an aged Pangborn (Scott Glenn) shacking up with his forgetful mother Ruth (Spacek). Wanting to avoid a PR incident, the prison won't tell Deaver who the mysterious inmate is, but as the season progresses, the two will finally meet.
By the end of the episode, you'll want to learn more about these characters and the darkness lurking just in the periphery. Dark, mysterious, scary, and beautifully atmospheric, Castle Rock is everything you'd want from an adaption of King's books. Moreover, it is not burdened by the risk of ruining things for fans since it's an entirely new story. One of the best decisions they made was hiring Thomas Newman to help compose the score; Newman's ethereal music really elevated other King adaptations such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
The first episode of Castle Rock will premiere on Hulu on July 25.
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