2017 was a huge year for Stephen King; most significantly, film adaptations of IT, Gerald's Game, and 1922 were a few of the best horror offerings of the year. On top of those, we had TV series based on Mr. Mercedes and The Mist. It was a bona fide Renaissance for the bestselling author, who's books and subsequent films were staples of the 1980s. King Fever may have cooled slightly in 2018, with few examples of the Master of Horror's works coming to fruition; the exception, of course, being Castle Rock.
Produced by King along with Bad Robot's J.J. Abrams, the 10-episode Hulu series doesn't reimagine a specific novel or short story, it pulls together disparate tales connected by the fictional town of Castle Rock, where many King-penned chillers take place. Castle Rock, for example, was the setting for Cujo, The Dark Half, and The Shawshank Redemption; the town in Maine is also adjacent to Derry (where IT took place), Ludlow (where Pet Sematary took place), Chamberlin (where Carrie took place), and the disincorporated hamlet once-known as Salem's Lot. At 5 episodes deep at the time of posting, Castle Rock has yet to establish many overt links to the above-mentioned properties; still, the series is undeniably King to the core, with legions of fans flocking to the streaming giant for new episodes each Wednesday. Here's a synopsis:
"The Stephen King multiverse is the setting for this psychological horror series that takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, which is a location familiar to fans of King's work. Castle Rock explores themes and worlds that unite King's canon, including the infamous Shawshank Prison. An anonymous phone call lures death-row attorney Henry Deaver back to Castle Rock. He is unsettled by his hometown, but he returns to help a sinister, mostly mute man being kept in a cage underneath Shawshank. Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgård, who starred in feature adaptations of King's Carrie and It, respectively, are among the show's stars."
It can hardly be considered a surprise to those in the know that Castle Rock has officially been renewed for a second season. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news with show developer Dustin Thomas dishing details:
"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. It's pretty delicious that Kathy Bates played both Dolores Claiborne and Annie Wilkes when you really think about that question in the movie adaptations. But I think that there's something for us about being faithful to the way that Steve does it in the books, that almost feels like the anthology format has already been laid out for us."
Expect the dwindling Stephen King Renaissance to resurge in 2019; in addition to a second season of Castle Rock, we can look forward to the release of IT: Chapter Two and a new feature film adaptation of Pet Sematary. A sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, and From a Buick 8 are also in pre-production, both eyeing national releases in 2020. Considering the amount of work King has produced and the creative ways older stories have been re-adapted recently, we can expect projects inspired by his works to be popular for many more years to come. Thanks to THR for putting this item on our radars.