Castle Rock (Season 1), 2018
Signed up the 28/03/2017
Castle Rock is one lonely place. Perhaps the loneliest author Stephen King has ever thought-up. Hulu prides itself in being just the right balance between Netflix and HBO, so you can always expect some stellar world-building from them, no matter the cost. This way they're a balance in such that Netflix is more aesthetically-enclined while HBO is more story-focused. This says everything you need to know about the new Hulu original series that is apparently of the horror genre but actually just turns out to be a psychological thriller that looks kind of cheap when it tries itself out with the whole SciFi stuff.
Back to the gruelling loneliness of the title small town that the series is set on. The loneliness, much like Wind Gap from HBO's Sharp Objects, gets so possessive that even the townsfolk have turned into gapping holes of darkness. They insist that the town is cursed, that all the bad things that happen, all the gruesome things they themselves do is because of the town.
Nobody ever takes responsibility in Castle Rock, everyone keeps to themselves while helping bury others'secrets in silence. The entire town will give you chills, and I personally was bothered by how slow the story was but I kept coming back episode after episode, addicted to the bad decisions and pure evil that cloaks the town. This is the town (and the series') sell, that you will keep coming back (can anybody say voodoo?!) Even the townfolk that try to escape the town are drawn back at some point or another.
Henry Matthew Deaver is one of those unfortunate people whose name the spooky small town keeps calling out for. He has obliged to the town's ghostly allure this time around, hiding behind the excuse that he wants to save a John Doe from a prison where he was illegally kept in the basement of.
This show starts off way too slow, the writers run around in circles for way too long, and it overall hurts the story that could've been. Only by the 6th or 7th episode do you start to feel like you're watching something worth your while. The main problem of this show is that the writers/showrunners seemed to have not known what they were aiming for, and instead threw sh*t at the wall episode-after-episode trying to see what sticks. Which is why that ending is more underwhelming than anyone could've thought it would be.
The cast (although they could've casted, say, Mack Wilds even, instead of André Holland as Henry) characterisation, the setting, world-building and all-things aesthetics are in tact, exceptionally so even, but it's only so long that visual flare can carry a series before it reveals itself for the fraud it is. I'll admit I started enjoying the series a lot around episode 6, but it was initially for nothing if all that was leading up to such a lukewarm ending.
No matter though, I would recommend Castle Rock to anyone who has the stomach for the bittersweet and sometimes, most times, out-right disturbing; the psychological aspect, plus the whole non-linear format they gradually apply. You'll have to be patient through some episodes, but the show overall scratches the itch for some intellectual storytelling if you're into those kind of stories.
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