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Home Is Where the Horror Is: Creating a Sense of Place for ‘Castle Rock’

"'Castle Rock' makes its central locale feel real and imbues it with the kind of dread and fractured humanity exhibited in pop culture's most famously weird small towns."

Hulu’s 10-episode series Castle Rock, explains Nick Schager, “isn’t an adaptation of any one particular King [work] but, rather, is a project that synthesizes elements from many of his novels (both popular and lesser-known) for an all-new supernatural mystery set in one of his favorite fictional haunting spots: the quiet Maine town of Castle Rock.” To read the full article, click here.

“It’s a terrifying place to live, but I hope that people will want to visit and come back to it again and again,” executive producer J.J. Abrams tells Shirley Li. “I think that it feels like it’s alive in a way that I hope translates to the audience.”

Read more: Why Castle Rock Is a Stephen King Classic, Even Without Stephen King

“When you look at [King’s] work, you see the connections in his novels, the way he references characters or locations or events,” Abrams continues. “It’s already there, that tapestry. [Castle Rock] lives and breathes in a world that he created.” To read the full interview, click here.

The series, writes Carly Lane, “makes for a thoroughly gripping viewing experience even if you’re not well-versed in the works of Stephen King, but the show’s most intriguing mysteries are a result of one of King’s most gut-punching story devices: the power of a place, and what happens to the people who never truly escape it.

“By all appearances, Castle Rock looks like any other town ravaged by time and outside opportunity. A once successful area has deteriorated into an industrial wasteland, with the only remaining source of significant employment being Shawshank [Prison] itself. Residents feel equal parts defeated and on edge.

“King’s IT drew back the curtain on the dark underbelly of a Maine town called Derry,” Lane continues, “and Castle Rock hints that its neighbor casts an equally malevolent spell on all who still live there.” To read the full article, click here.

The story plays, Schager says, “like a classic King original, replete with an enigmatic fiend, flashbacks to childhood traumas, tensions between parents and kids, and an overarching atmosphere of tranquil Maine sleepiness masking root-deep rot.” To read the full article, click here.

“All the way through there are references, large and small, to Stephen King stories,” Rachel Weber says. “Mentions of a rabid dog (Cujo), a body found by the train tracks (Stand By Me), and the appearance of Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Needful Things) pepper the early episodes, and Shawshank Penitentiary looms over the plot like a hefty co-star. 

“It’s fitting for a show based in Castle Rock, a longtime King location, and you’ll be able to smell the smugness coming off King fans as they count up their fan points for spotting every connection. I don’t think it makes it any easier to know exactly where the series is headed, but it has the effect of making the world feel more real. A place with its own history and myths and legends.” To read the full article, click here.

“Coming at Castle Rock as longtime Stephen King fans,” writes Josh Wigler, Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, Castle Rock showrunners and co-creators, “have designed their new anthology series to emulate the feelings evoked by the revered author’s works—namely, putting forth a story that unfurls in a surprising nature, weaving through multiple genres and ultimately even telling different tales.” 

“Stephen King is a writer who kind of does it all, and part of what we wanted to do in this show was deliver on the psychological suspense, the creepiness, and at times, the grab-you-by-the-throat scares,” Thomason tells Cheryl Eddy. “In the early episodes, we’re building the world of Castle Rock and starting to understand who lives here—who has stayed, and who comes back, who tries to escape. Hopefully, some of the horrors of being an everyday human are also on the page through the characters.” To read the full article, click here.

“We take the challenge and opportunity of telling a story in the Kingian way really seriously,” Thomason says to Wigler. “In terms of the anthology, each season is going to be its own self-contained story: beginning, middle and end. But I think that just as the books do, we want to surprise viewers with the ways in which the stories intersect. Just as the places the characters pop up in very unexpected ways throughout the books, that’s the kind of anthology that we would like to tell.

“One of the things about the King universe or multiverse is that some very strange things can happen when it comes to the ways that the stories unfold, and hopefully there’ll be surprises along the way in terms of how the anthology works in that way.” To read the full article, click here.

Castle Rock, says Nick Venable, “immediately hooks viewers into trying to understand its layered and emotionally complex story, and expands upon it all with a variety of supplemental mysteries. The performances are all as intense and captivating as one would expect from this talented ensemble. And as important as anything else, Castle Rock makes its central locale feel real and imbues it with the kind of dread and fractured humanity exhibited in pop culture’s most famously weird small towns, such as Twin Peaks, Picket Fences, Springwood, Blue Velvet’s and many more.”  To read the full article, click here.

Read more: Castle Rock: How Hulu’s Stephen King Anthology Series Was Born