Roush Review: ‘Castle Rock’ Viewers Are in For a Frightfully Fun Ride

Patrick Harbron/Hulu

TV has seen all types of shows inspired by the fertile imagination of Stephen King, from the very good (last summer’s Mr. Mercedes, back August 22) to the very bad (last summer’s The Mist, best forgotten).

What’s rare is a true original, neither adaptation nor remake but homage. Castle Rock aims high in seeking new menace within King’s fabled town of terror — as one character notes, “Every inch is stained with someone’s sin” — and it largely succeeds, especially when the focus is on a truly iconic institution: Shawshank State Prison.

When a silent young John Doe (It’s Bill Skarsgård, mastering the creepy haunted stare) is found caged within the fortress’s bowels, the discovery brings death-row lawyer Henry Deaver (André Holland) back to his hometown, triggering the usual gamut of spooky childhood memories and mysteries.

King devotees will enjoy the many veiled references to past classics, even if they find some of the gimmicks — like a local (Melanie Lynskey) who intuits others’ thoughts — a bit too familiar.

Melanie Lynskey as Molly Strand (Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu)

It’s unclear from the first chapters where Castle Rock will rank in the King canon, but judging from the horrific visions generated by the prison’s mystery man, we’re in for a frightfully fun ride.

Castle Rock, Series Premiere, Wednesday, July 25, Hulu