Castle Rock, the new series based on the works of Stephen King, has dropped on Hulu, and, so far, the critical reception has been mostly positive.
Created by Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw and produced by J.J. Abrams and King, Castle Rock weaves together characters and themes from King’s fictional town, Castle Rock. The show stars André Holland, Caleel Harris and It star Chosen Jacobs, as well as Melanie Lynskey, Scott Glenn, Jane Levy, Scott Glenn, Terry O’Quinn, Carrie star Sissy Spacek and It himself, Bill Skarsgård (of course, this time he’s playing a human, not a demonic clown).
Here’s the official rundown: “A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock is an original story that combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland.”
So far, Castle Rock’s score on Rotten Tomatoes is at 81 percent, with the official consensus calling the show a “meticulously crafted mystery brimming with allusions” that will please “even the pickiest of Stephen King fans–though mileage may vary for casual viewers.” In short, it seems like you have to be a King aficionado to get the most out of this series, although casual fans might have fun along the way.
Most of the reviews are positive:
Newsday: “Starts slow and gets better — while an excellent cast (and lead, in Holland) front a story that’s a little more psychological than supernatural in the early going.”
Boston Globe: “Castle Rock is a giant basket of Easter eggs for King people, but for the rest of us it’s a decent show layered with supernatural secrets waiting to be decoded.”
IndieWire: (It’s) smart, fun scares; deeply felt, well-founded characters; layers of story to decipher, along with the references — what more could you want in a new piece of the Stephen King library?
io9: “The kind of spine-tingling dread and irresistible suspense that will leave you fiending to see what happens next.”
But there are also some negative opinions:
RogerEbert.com: “When it tries to be a wonderland for King fans, it races past the line of referential, rounds through fan service, and steps into cliché, sometimes even inching toward self-parody.”
USA Today: “There are just a few too many King Easter eggs for the uninitiated to grasp, and not enough of King’s trademark storytelling to grip you the way his novels do.”
New York Times: “You’ve heard the phrase, ‘The location is a character’? Here, the town of Castle Rock is an ungenerous co-star, elbowing out its colleagues.”
CNN.com: “Name-checking and drawing inspiration from various King works, the J.J. Abrams-produced show boasts a gaudy cast, but proves enamored with atmosphere while failing to scare up a compelling story.”
If you want to judge Castle Rock for yourself, the entire first season is now available for streaming on Hulu.