Castle Rock

Look of the Week: The costume callbacks to Stephen King on Castle Rock

Contributed by
Aug 26, 2018

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

The Stephen King references that litter Castle Rock range from very specific callbacks to the more obscure to those casual viewers will know without having read a single word of King’s writing. I reside somewhere in the middle of these two worlds; I have read several King novels and watched the big movie adaptation hits. I am by no means a Stephen King expert, but there have been some defining costume moments in Castle Rock that are both stylish and nod to the world that King has created.

Castle Rock
A muted color palette runs throughout Castle Rock. Henry Deaver’s (André Holland) childhood clothes have a pop of bold color and pattern, but as an adult, his suits reside in a sea of neutral shades — blue, gray, beige and at his most adventurous, an olive green jacket. Costume designer John Dunn indicates that Henry is essentially dressed as a lawyer at all times; with a client like The Kid (Bill Skarsgård) he is always working. The nearest he gets to casual attire is removing his tie.     

Smoke from the nearby forest fires gives everything a hazy tone as if it is infecting the streets of this town. Meanwhile, Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) has a dream to revive Castle Rock by renovating buildings, but when the history of the town is this violent, it might not be best to wake sleeping ghosts. Molly is haunted by her past and by her undiagnosed psychic gift — she can hear other people’s thoughts, feel their emotions. Despite this, she tries to have a sunny disposition, best witnessed through her choice of a yellow blazer in Episode 3, “Local Color.” It's an item of clothing that is a visual reminder of a recent Stephen King adaptation.

Molly isn’t wearing a raincoat, but the color of her blazer matches the one worn by Georgie in IT right before Pennywise drags him into the storm drain, a coat that is worn in both the 1990 TV movie and last year’s smash hit movie. This outfit is visually jarring in this town, so much so that Molly’s teen drug dealer pal quips “How many minions you kill to make that coat?” She snarkily responds without missing a beat, “Six.”

Castle Rock
Molly’s oxy habit dulls her unique gift, which is also why she wears sunglasses when there is no need for them — she looks like she is constantly hiding a hangover. However, her blazer game is strong, including the teal number she ditches in favor of the canary that she later loses to her cellmate after she is arrested for trying to acquire drugs from a kid who looks like he was in Children of the Corn. The blouse she is wearing is ripped, giving it a homemade cold shoulder aesthetic. Molly no longer looks daytime TV appropriate, but she manages to find a tweed jacket for her later on-screen appearance. This replacement doesn’t have the same ray-of-sunshine vibe, but it also isn’t a reminder of a missing child from nearby Derry.

In a box of keepsakes Molly hides in her basement, there's another garment linking to a missing child, but this one was found in mysterious circumstances that have never been explained. Henry’s adopted father, Reverend Matthew Deaver (Adam Rothenberg), was found critically injured after Henry’s disappearance; he later died from his injuries.

Castle Rock
However, in “Local Color,” we see a version of what transpired through Molly’s flashback to the event. In it, she walks barefoot from her house across the snowy street to her missing friend's home. She grabs his red flannel before making her way upstairs where she disconnects Matthew Deaver’s air supply, killing him. This jacket is another link to Henry beyond the connection that allows her to feel both his physical and emotional state.

Connections through clothing come in other forms on Castle Rock when The Kid puts on an old suit of Matthew Deaver’s in Episode 6, “Filter.” It is disturbing not only because they are the clothes of a dead man, but also the suit Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek) thought her husband was buried in. It is also oversized in a way that makes the image of The Kid waving outside seem even creepier.

Castle Rock
Nothing The Kid wears belongs to him; he doesn’t have his own style because he doesn’t have his own clothes, and nothing fits him properly. He also doesn’t have any qualms about meeting people for the first time when he is completely naked.

This was the case in “Harvest” when Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) met The Kid for the first time. Jackie is looking for some of that famous Castle Rock excitement no matter how malevolent; she notes that she would “give her left tit” to go back to the less than savory times. Her character has an interest in the darkness that enveloped not only this town but also her family, as her uncle just happens to be a certain Stephen King character who had a thing for using an ax as a way to unlock a door.

Castle Rock

Jackie is actually called Diane; she changed her name to annoy her parents when they wouldn’t spill details on her uncle. Jackie’s costuming could slot into a number of King adaptations across a variety of decades: a shearling jacket, cable knit sweaters, stripes, jeans, and boots. This is layering done right and a timeless look as we head toward fall.

Castle Rock
Uncle Jack (Jack Nicholson) was also good at the layering thing — which makes sense considering the climate — and while costume designer John Dunn refrains from giving Jackie an identical wardrobe there is definitely a thread between the two. A plaid shirt is a nod to her murderous relative. This is a ubiquitous garment, so it provides a link without being too visually obvious. As with a lot of the references to the works of Stephen King, some are more obvious than others.

The past can’t stay buried in Castle Rock, no matter what box you put it into. The same can be said for clothes, even the ones people are buried in.