TV review: Castle Rock, Starzplay (via Prime Video)
- Katherine McLaughlin
- 6 December 2018
Bleak psychological-horror series loosely based on the characters and work of Stephen King
If you peruse the cast list for this dark, psychological horror inspired by Stephen King's body of work and produced by JJ Abram's company Bad Robot you'll see some familiar faces from the many films adapted from the author's novels. Sissy Spacek is one, and she plays the adopted mother to the lead protagonist Henry Deaver (André Holland). Now a grown man and attorney he finds himself drawn back to his home town to confront his troubled youth.
As a child, Henry went missing for eleven days and his father died in mysterious circumstances. He's now been summoned to a decaying Castle Rock by a strange, almost mute inmate at Shawshank prison. If this all sounds a bit like the adult Stranger Things that's because it kind of is. The creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason take a similar approach by using loving nods and mystery to hook the viewer in. Though it must be stated that their approach isn't as invested in nostalgia and is much more bleak, gory and grounded in reality.
They don't forget the black comedy either with Melanie Lynskey, as a woman with psychic abilities, turning in an excellent performance that shifts between fragile and amusing. Trouble has a way of finding her and as she rolls her eyes at the calamity the writers use it as levity in between the darker moments.
Abuse, corruption, violence and mental health issues provide much of the drama and suspense in keeping with King's themes – with the overall show providing a startling portrait of modern America. It takes it time in revealing information and revelling in the insidious evil that is working its way around town. Castle Rock may be set in the present day but the way in which the show uses 60s music chillingly expresses how long the rot has been setting in.
Episodes watched: four of ten.
Castle Rock is available in the UK on Starzplay via Amazon Prime Video Channels from Fri 14 Dec.