needful things

What Castle Rock Could Be

Although they don’t come right and say it in the press release, one thing is pretty clear once you read through the lines: Castle Rock probably won’t actually adapt any actual Stephen King stories. The film and television rights to King’s work are scattered to the winds. Like it or not, the cinematic versions of The Stand and The Dark Tower and It won’t get to crossover. Don’t expect Idris Elba’s Roland Deschain to stroll into Castle Rock and have a beer with The Shining‘s Jack Torrance.

So let’s think about about what Castle Rock probably will be: a television series set in King’s fictional town that evokes this world and fills every frame with easter eggs referencing other stories. It’s unlikely that any noteworthy King characters will step into the spotlight (although they’ll surely be rummaging around in the shadows) and it’s unlikely that the events of any Castle Rock novel will be told (especially since the town was wiped off the map in the “final” Castle Rock story, Needful Things). Instead, this feels like it could be the Rogue One of Stephen King projects, something that pans the camera left and asks “Hey, what was everyone else doing when all of that craziness was going down?”

map of stephen kings maine

What’s especially interesting is that Castle Rock itself offers this series a number of possibilities. Unlike the town of Derry, Maine (the setting of It, Dreamcatcher, and portions of 11.22.63), Castle Rock isn’t an inherently evil place built on a foundation of cosmic darkness – it’s just a place that attracts bad things like a magnet: demonic con men, rabid dogs, troubled men with psychic abilities, and so on.

However, Castle Rock is also home to more human and recognizable conflicts. Shawkshank Prison isn’t that far and it’s entirely possible kids to grow up there and not encounter a single supernatural monster (just talk to the cast of “The Body”/Stand by Me). With this kind of flexibility and ten hours of story, Castle Rock can capture what most Stephen King movies side-step – King’s detailed depiction of the mundane and his wickedly funny, often tragic exploration of small town life.

There’s no way this series isn’t chock-full of monsters, but Castle Rock offers a unique canvas. The horrors are as human as they are hellish, the potential for wonder as common as the screams.

In some ways, that first trailer is misleading, especially since the vast majority of the names and titles mentioned have nothing to do with the town of Castle Rock. However, this looks like the first Stephen King project to acknowledge the connection between all of these stories, that Misery‘s Annie Wilkes and It‘s Pennywise the Dancing Clown exist in the same world, even though they pose very different threats on very different scales. Welcome to the Stephen King multiverse. Hopefully, we’ll be able to explore it for a little while.

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