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TV Series Review

Castle Rock's been home to rabid dogs and serial killers, haunted cameras and devil-owned antique shops. Sure, it looks nice and all. But trust me: You wouldn't want to live there.

Henry Deaver knows that better than most. He was raised in the deceptively peaceful-looking Maine community—adopted by pastor Matthew Deaver and his wife, Ruth; and ushered into the snow-white town. But in 1991, then 12-year-old Henry vanished during a brutal winter cold snap. His father was discovered hours later, frozen solid and with a broken back.

Eleven days later, Sheriff Alan Pangborn found Henry standing in the middle of a frozen lake, his memory wiped clean. He was, and perhaps still is, the only suspect in Rev. Matthew's death. No wonder Henry moved away as soon as he could.

But as plenty of folks know (to their eternal peril), Castle Rock's a hard place to leave completely. Henry, now a lawyer, has returned—lured back to his Maine hometown again by a mysterious call from Shawshank Prison. Now he's involved in a horror beyond comprehension, something involving a mysterious man found caged in the bowels of an unused cellblock, the suicide of Shawshank's last warden, and … Henry's dearly departed dad?

Henry must start digging, sometimes literally, to get to the bottom of this grotesque mystery and uncover what secrets the town is hiding … this time.


Even though his literary output has slowed in recent years, horror maestro Stephen King has had quite a run on screen recently. IT scared up big money at the box office in 2017, and a sequel is on the way. Stranger Things, an original Netflix series with a serious Kingsian vibe to it, has become a bona fide phenomenon. And Hulu's already familiar with King's work, given that the network brought his novel, 11.22.63, to the small screen in 2016.

Hulu's Castle Rock isn't based on a previous King work, but his DNA is spattered all over the series like blood. He helped create the thing with one-time Lost showrunner J.J. Abrams. And the town of Castle Rock has been the setting for many a King novel, from The Dead Zone and The Dark Half to Cujo and Needful Things. (And because King enjoys working in a shared universe, the fictional town is mentioned in dozens of his other works, too.) From the very beginning, we know just whose show this is.

Castle Rock's opening sequence pays homage to IT, The Shining, The Green Mile and more. The show itself tips its cap to dozens of King properties, it seems (along with a nod or two to Abrams' own horror-tinged mystery, Lost). Sure, King might not have penned Castle Rock (Sam Shaw and Dusty Thomason are credited as its writers), but like the secret twin of King's The Dark Half, Castle Rock is wholly embedded in King's universe, leaching from it its sinister undertones, its tight character studies and … its problems.


While King knows how to tell a ripping good yarn (and can be surprisingly, even positively, spiritual at times), he's never been lauded for his restraint. His books are often filled with sex and language and oh so much gore.

Castle Rock stays true to its creator's oeuvre. While a good chunk of the show is just atmospherically creepy, it sometimes revels in cascades of blood and regales in gore. Death and murder are such common fixtures here that the Grim Reaper should get a credit in the cast list.

But even if you close your eyes throughout, you still gotta deal with what seeps into your ears. F- and s-words crash the party with regularity, as do a smattering of other swear words. Also like King, Castle Rock dabbles in the world of Christian faith, and that world is not always presented positively.

Yes, Henry's time in Castle Rock is sure to be eventful. It'll surely be a stay he'll remember forever … assuming he lives, of course. But for discerning viewers with an eye out for objectionable content, not only is Castle Rock a place you wouldn't want to live in, but you wouldn't want to visit it, either.

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Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

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Plot Summary

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Sept. 11, 2018: "Romans"
July 25, 2018: "Severance"
Aug. 15, 2018: "Filter"



Readability Age Range



André Holland as Henry Deaver; Melanie Lynskey as Molly Strand; Scott Glenn as Alan Pangborn; Jane Levy as Jackie; Terry O'Quinn as Dale Lacy; Bill Skarsgård as the kid; Sissy Spacek as Ruth Deaver; Caleel Harris as Young Henry Deaver; Chosen Jacobs as Wendell Deaver






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