• Network: Hulu
  • Series Premiere Date: Jul 25, 2018
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Dave Trumbore
    Jul 11, 2018
    100
    Shaw, Thomason, Abrams & Co. really nail the core concepts of King’s storytelling here. Each character gets a good amount of screen time to focus on introspection. ... Castle Rock is a can’t-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries.
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jul 23, 2018
    91
    Castle Rock looks to be one of the best King things in years.
  3. Reviewed by: Kristen Baldwin
    Jul 11, 2018
    91
    Though most characters are new (Scott Glenn’s Alan Pangborn, a sheriff who appeared in Needful Things and The Dark Half, is one exception), for King fans the world of Castle Rock will be inescapably familiar. Spending time here feels, in many ways, like coming home--with all of the excitement and dread such a visit entails.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Aug 4, 2018
    85
    Castle Rock, especially in the early going, unfurls its tentacles slowly, but their grip is eerily strong; over the three episodes I watched, I was never tempted to look away.
  5. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jul 24, 2018
    83
    Castle Rock shows a tremendous investment of time and creativity. It’s worth your walk on the dark side.
  6. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Jul 11, 2018
    83
    Smart, fun scares; deeply felt, well-founded characters; layers of story to decipher, along with the references--what more could you want in a new piece of the Stephen King library?
  7. Reviewed by: Jack Hamilton
    Jul 25, 2018
    80
    The show makes skillful use of its episodic medium, carefully pacing its storylines and building out its world while still making sure each hour is filtered through generous helpings of creepiness.
  8. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jul 25, 2018
    80
    In every respect it’s the equal of, and largely superior to, any of the actual King adaptations that have come to television lately.
  9. Reviewed by: Karen Han
    Jul 23, 2018
    80
    King’s work is at its most frightening when its monsters are more familiar than abstract, reminiscent of the darkness we might encounter every day in others and in ourselves. Castle Rock manages to capture the fear that comes from recognizing that darkness, and as long as the show doesn’t get too preoccupied with the more conventional horrors lurking just offscreen, it may just become the scariest series on TV.
  10. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Jul 19, 2018
    80
    Castle Rock rises to the occasion; some of its creepier moments have one wishing it were on a big screen, the better for skin to crawl.
  11. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 11, 2018
    80
    Though its eerie aesthetics are far from daring, it delivers routinely suspenseful revelations and set pieces even as it takes its creeping-death time developing its characters and scenario, all in order to build toward some greater horror.
  12. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jul 23, 2018
    78
    Through its first three episodes, Castle Rock builds out its world and character relationships thoughtfully and deliberately. Whether it holds up through the entire 10-episode first season remains to be seen, but Castle Rock gets off to a strong, engrossing start.
  13. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jul 20, 2018
    75
    Starts slow and gets better--while an excellent cast (and lead, in Holland) front a story that's a little more psychological than supernatural in the early going.
  14. Reviewed by: Dave Nemetz
    Jul 11, 2018
    75
    The early episodes are a little scattered, plot-wise, trying to juggle a multitude of narratives across several timelines, and it takes a while for the storytelling to find its footing. But the Henry Deaver and Skarsgård threads are strong throughout, and the more you learn about this town, the richer and more enthralling the story becomes.
  15. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Jul 25, 2018
    70
    Holland, Skarsgård and Noel Fisher (as a green but determined prison guard) anchor Castle Rock to a solidity that perhaps invites the view to pardon the wan efforts to flesh out other characters or allow us to truly care about them, and thereby fear for them, until the third hour.
  16. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jul 25, 2018
    70
    There are definitely elements of hocus-pocus and holy cow in Castle Rock, as well as scenes of nicely disturbing violence. In other words, just what you both expect and want from a King-based product. What there isn’t, alas, is a lot of forward momentum. The storytelling is pretty logy, taking a long time to make a few points. ... The show has a strong cast. Spacek is superb as Henry’s stepmom. ... Handsomely gloomy, 10-episode project.
  17. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jul 24, 2018
    70
    It’s probably not the best news to hard-core Stephen King fans that I like what I’ve seen of Castle Rock, the J.J. Abrams-produced Hulu series that’s set in one of the fictional Maine towns King has so creepily populated. Because I’m the kind of viewer who tends to like the TV adaptations of King’s stories right up until the moment the otherworldly horror really gets going.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Jul 24, 2018
    70
    This is a solid case of so far, so pretty good.
  19. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jul 23, 2018
    70
    The plot unfolds at such a leisurely pace that, despite strong performances from Spacek (as Henry’s sundowning mother Ruth) and others, the many winks to the official King catalog can’t help initially overwhelming this cover band version of it. ... The series has fully come into its own [by the seventh episode], and the King allusions turn into treats for those who recognize them rather than distracting reminders of classics this newcomer can’t hope to live up to.
  20. Reviewed by: Liam Mathews
    Jul 23, 2018
    70
    Stephen King's Constant Readers (and casual fans) will find a lot to like in Hulu's Castle Rock, a new drama series inspired by the horror master's stories, if they can stick with the slow pace.
  21. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    Jul 24, 2018
    63
    Rock feels like someone else's attempt to make a Stephen King story, even though the author is involved as a producer (as he often is on such adaptations).
  22. Reviewed by: Michael Haigis
    Jul 17, 2018
    63
    Its puzzle-box plot is the Stephen King Mad Libs version of a straightforward mystery that, even in its most engrossing moments, lacks the pulpy imagination of the author's finest work. There are jump scares, and one sequence involving a children's game is disturbing, but even at its most frightening, Castle Rock is never surprising.
  23. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    Jul 30, 2018
    60
    Castle Rock rewards King fans in ways they wouldn’t think possible. Others will have to find their way in through the dribs and drabs that leak out.
  24. Reviewed by: Allison Shoemaker
    Jul 24, 2018
    60
    When Castle Rock is focused on being a damn fine story--a smart one, a playful one--it can be good, even great. When it tries to be a wonderland for King fans, it races past the line of referential, rounds through fan service, and steps into cliché, sometimes even inching toward self-parody. Your response to that particular tendency may range from puzzlement, particularly if you’re not much of a King fan, to downright irritating.
  25. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jul 19, 2018
    60
    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. [23 Jul - 5 Aug 2018, p.10]
  26. Reviewed by: Terry Terrones
    Jul 24, 2018
    58
    Bill Skarsgard, despite minimal dialogue and a slight frame, is genuinely creepy and menacing as a prisoner who may be more than he seems. Genuine performances such as Skarsgard’s should keep audiences invested even when Castle Rock temporarily veers off course.
  27. Reviewed by: Erik Adams
    Jul 12, 2018
    58
    The show excels at bookending its episodes with big set pieces and stylish suspense sequences. It lets the slack out in between, when all those stories have to jockey for position with the mythology and characters, who are still only partially formed nearly halfway through the season. Castle Rock has to have a lot of personality, because a lot of the people living there don’t.
  28. 50
    A bit of a mixed bag. As the series unfolds, there are King-like touches aplenty, including spectacular acts of violence, unnerving monologues by folksy keepers of Castle Rock lore, and flashbacks that give you just enough information to chill the blood but not enough to resolve ongoing mysteries.
  29. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Jul 24, 2018
    50
    Four episodes in, the plenitude of incident creates an effect more like dilution than density, and it’s hard to see the trees for the forest of allusion. Castle Rock sometimes feels like a grab bag of rehashed tropes. It is freshest when its paranormality flickers with metaphors for a real world haunted by prison systems and spotted with dying small towns and plagued by sensations of outsiderness.
  30. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jul 23, 2018
    50
    Name-checking and drawing inspiration from various King works, the J.J. Abrams-produced show boasts a gaudy cast (some with King connections), but proves enamored with atmosphere while failing to scare up a compelling story.
  31. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Jul 11, 2018
    50
    It’s eerie-by-the-numbers, repeatedly telling us quite how scared we ought to be, without yet building characters for whom we feel sympathetic fear.
  32. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Jul 11, 2018
    50
    The failure to get hooked in the story was becoming particularly frustrating by the fourth episode, which at least pushes the series forward by the end. Generally, the show isn't at all scary, nor is it all that suspenseful, and I can't quite put my finger even on the exact genre it's working in.
  33. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Jul 27, 2018
    40
    Cloning the atmosphere of Stephen King comes at the expense of uncovering the best possible story about Henry Deaver. Instead of thrilling in the horror of the present, Castle Rock is echoing the screams of the past.
  34. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jul 24, 2018
    40
    Almost halfway into a 10-episode season, Castle Rock hasn’t made the case that you should care, beyond a generic sense of spooky mystery--or, maybe, a pre-existing attachment to the Stephen King Extended Universe. .... Castle Rock--certainly well-acted and produced, with some striking set pieces--may work well for completists. But it isn’t so successful as TV.
  35. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jul 24, 2018
    30
    If it’s meant to frighten, it’s not very good at that. If it’s meant to ruminate on the nature of evil, then that message never gets through. If it’s meant to creep you out, then it barely registers. ... The first three episodes, which premiere in one chunk Wednesday (a new episode will be released each week), spend too much time laying groundwork, meting out clues and references at such a sluggish pace that they’re not worth noting, unless the show considers its mission to act as a Stephen King book club.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 70 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 70
  2. Negative: 9 out of 70
  1. Jul 30, 2018
    2
    There are some wonderful Stephen King miniseries, movies etc. Hearts in Atlantis, The Shining, It, The Stand. This show tries too hard to beThere are some wonderful Stephen King miniseries, movies etc. Hearts in Atlantis, The Shining, It, The Stand. This show tries too hard to be 'erie' and 'dark' and lacks cohesion. The casting is outstanding, the story not so much. Sort of a convoluted silly mess which reminds me of other awful King shows-The Dome and the Hospital show. (forgot the name of that one) As for me, I'm out after three episodes. Full Review »
  2. Jul 28, 2018
    3
    There is no way this is a 10 score level show, it's always interesting to see the 10's run through on the first day of a series from new MCThere is no way this is a 10 score level show, it's always interesting to see the 10's run through on the first day of a series from new MC accounts with only one rated show in their history. A conspiracy minded individual might deduce that these were sockpuppet accounts created by the studio & staff of the production itself to goose the ratings, or something. Watched 1.5 episodes of Castle Rock so far, which mostly dragged, not sure if I'm interested enough to watch the rest. Might update score if I do. Full Review »
  3. Jul 27, 2018
    3
    "Building a mood","setting the groundwork"...Ahem..in the age of Peak TV it's what others would call "filler" and obvious attempt at playing"Building a mood","setting the groundwork"...Ahem..in the age of Peak TV it's what others would call "filler" and obvious attempt at playing with the audience's expectations.
    The art of creating mystery is not in placing it front and center (a boy that was given up for dead appears in the middle of a frozen lake when there was nothing a second before), it is in making us doubt in rationalisation and logic.
    Sadly, the American audience doesn't read books anymore (European masters like Maupassant, Kafka and Doyle) and is content in this cheap form of thrills.Yawn.
    3 points for the good cinematography and editing.
    As always good technique but empty content. This is American TV after all.
    Full Review »