Cast: André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård
Release Date: January 8, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
The first season of Castle Rock follows Henry Deaver (André Holland, American Horror Story), a Death Row attorney who returns to Castle Rock, Maine, his hometown, after he receives an anonymous phone call from the infamous Shawshank State Penitentiary. The call is about a nameless young man (Bill Skarsgård, It) who is found locked in an underground cage that’s located in a long-abandoned cell block beneath the prison. Upon his discovery, the mysterious young man, with a sinister and unnerving presence, whispers Henry’s name. Curious about how and why someone left this boy imprisoned, Henry is drawn into the case and attempts to help him. But there are reasons why “The Kid” was imprisoned. And reasons why he should never be set free.
Permeated with a sense of foreboding and dread, the haunting small town of Castle Rock is not willing to let Henry leave. Aside from now having to deal with the strange young man found in the prison, Henry is faced with the fact that his adoptive mother (Sissy Spacek, Carrie), who lives in Castle Rock with retired Sheriff Alan Pangborn (special guest star Scott Glenn), is struggling with the onset of dementia. Reluctantly, Henry stays to figure out just who “The Kid” is and how he wound up imprisoned under such appalling circumstances.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Get ready to journey back into the town of Castle Rock; a community where tragic and often inexplicable events are known to occur that to outsiders will likely seem nothing more than eccentric fictional tales. The new television series ‘Castle Rock’ invites viewers back to the town famous horror author Stephen King so meticulously crafted while offering new, King-like tales of mystery, terror and tragedy that fans of the popular author and the town he made infamous should appreciate.
The first season of ‘Castle Rock’ tells the curious tale of a mysterious nameless man known only as ‘The Kid’ (Bill Skarsgård) who is discovered locked in a cage hidden in the deepest reaches of Shawshank prison following the arrival of a new warden. With no name or record of his existence or reason for being in the prison, he mutters nothing more than a name. The name being that of Henry Deaver (André Holland), a lawyer from Castle Rock whose history with the town is far from pleasant. Yet even as hesitant as Henry may be to return after all this time, he quickly finds himself doing so nonetheless to assist this mysterious stranger and soon finds himself unable to leave.
The debut season of ‘Castle Rock’ brings fans of King’s unique and twisted style a new batch of stories, all revolving around the town (and even some events and characters) made famous from so many of author Stephen King’s famous novels. While not written or created by King himself, the plethora of references and Easter eggs to his various works, along with the general tone of the show still feels right at home with his writing. Add to that a well-crafted new story and a powerful cast of talented stars (including André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek and Jane Levy) to help it along and you won’t want to miss out on this impressive first season which should deliver more than enough intrigue, mystery and dread to appease even the biggest of King fans. I would strongly urge fellow fans of Stephen King’s world and work that haven’t yet had the pleasure of ‘Castle Rock’ to try and make a point of giving it a chance whenever possible.
As for fans of the show merely curious about the release’s technical merits, you can rest assured that the 2-disc Blu-ray release provides pretty great overall high definition video and audio presentations on every episode of the first season. Add to that a few decent extras in the way of some behind the scenes Featurettes (please see the technical specification coverage of the review below for more detailed information) and it should at least prove more than satisfactory for those who would like to physically add ‘Castle Rock: The Complete First Season’ to their Blu-ray (or even 4K Ultra HD) collection.
Overall, the first season of ‘Castle Rock’ constructs a tense, mind-twisting and emotional tale filled with intriguing characters and unexplainable events in a story worthy of the town King made us so familiar with in many of his bestselling novels. With a talented and well selected cast that doesn’t disappoint and a mystery that will keep you thinking and guessing, it’s an impressive start to what is looking to be a great new series that fellow fans of King’s world probably won’t want to overlook. The Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete First Season’ delivers quite admirably overall as well, providing solid high definition video and audio presentations on all ten episodes of the debut season, in addition to some enjoyable extras. For fans of the show that were already considering picking up a copy of this one to begin with, chances are you’ll find yourself quite pleased altogether with this 2-disc Blu-ray collection.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete First Season’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the show’s original 2.00:1 Aspect Ratio on all of the debut season’s episodes. The video presentations look quite impressive as a whole and provide sharp, clean and detailed presentations on each episode, with no notable faults or issues to be uncovered along the way. They hold up admirably even during the many darkly lit and/or heavily populated sequences, never resulting in anything on screen becoming negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, these are solid high definition video presentations from Warner Bros. that while somewhat lacking on the video bitrate still shouldn’t have much trouble pleasing fans of the series.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on all 10 Season One episodes. These multichannel soundtracks deliver crisp, clean and often quite aggressive audio presentations on every episode of the debut season. They frequently take advantage of all five available channels in order to send fitting music, along with nature effects, bits of dialogue and plenty more throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, and never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, these are fantastic 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtracks that make a wonderful compliment to the show and sound great every step of the way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete First Season’ includes a couple solid extras in the way of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore the show’s inspiration and the process of bringing it to life and featuring interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, some behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Castle Rock: Blood on the Page’ (running approximately 20 minutes in length) and ‘Clockwork of Horror’ (running approximately 5 minutes), in addition to ‘Castle Rock: Inside the Episode’ Featurettes for all ten episodes (approximately 2-4 minutes each).