Castle Rock Maintains Its Creep Factor to the Bitter End!
It took me awhile to get caught up on Castle Rock but it was a worthwhile endeavor. The show’s first season is a masterclass in generated maximum creepiness.
From the very beginning, when we were introduced to Shawshank’s warden Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) and the kid (Bill Skarsgård, IT) in the cage, there has been an ominous feel to the season that felt very supernatural.
When the kid’s first words were ‘Henry Deaver,’ who could have guessed that that was his name – as well as that of a Death Row lawyer (André Holland, The Knick, American Horror Story)) who’d left town long ago…
All the mysteries that became part of the story – where did young Henry go for twelve days before his father died; if Henry didn’t kill his father, who did; what was Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek, Bloodline, Coal Miner’s Daughter) talking about when she talked about leaving chess pieces in this world and others; what was the Voice of God, and what was causing all the weird@$$ bats#!tery that found people dying in unexpected (and occasionally cliched ways – are finally addressed in the season finale, Romans (Romans 3:26: For the wages of sin are death).
Last week’s hard swerve from the supernatural to science fiction with alternate universes was completely unexpected in a very Stephen King-like manner.
Written by Dustin Thomason (Manhattan) and Mark Lafferty (White Collar, Manhattan), and directed by Nicole Kassell (The Leftovers, Westworld), Romans builds on the creep factor and does, indeed, offer possible explanations for the events of the season – and adds the sight of two Henry Deavers in jail just to add to the potential for more weirdness.
There are so many things going on that it does take a bit of effort to process them, but that’s been part of the fun from the beginning.
Whether there’s a key bit of déjà vu with Ruth, or a surprising tag with Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy); cameos by O’Quinn, Ann Cusack (Warden Porter), and some disturbing memories for lawyer Deaver, the creepiness is cranked up eleven.
There’s even a bit bloody violence.
Cinematography is credited to Jeffrey Greeley and Richard Rutkowski and their work is as beautiful in all its shades of grey as it’s possible to imagine.
Kassel resists any urge to quicken the pace – leaving us twisting in the wind as the finale gets darker and darker. The little violence there is is of the blink and you’ll miss it variety in one case, and all weird angles that give us the suggestion of what’s going on rather than pulling back to let us see it in all its glory.
Trust me, the suspense is palpable.
In a move that qualifies as brilliant, even though Castle Rock is an anthology series with a new story and new characters each season, we are given a possible reason for the town’s continuing weirdness.
Romans includes sterling work by Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), whose Molly tries to help the Henrys to some kind of resolution, Holland and Skarsgård as the season reaches its unusual and (there’s that word again) creepy conclusion.
Final Grade: A-