Spoiler-Free Review of “Castle Rock” Season 2 on Hulu: Lizzy Caplan as Annie Wilkes gets this Slow-Burning Horror off to a Chilling Start

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

Just in time for Halloween, Hulu has released the first three episodes of Castle Rock season 2.  I loved season 1 so much and it featured some of the most brilliant episodes on television that I have ever witnessed.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen season 1, episode 7 (The Queen) yet, I highly recommend it.  So that being said, Castle Rock season 2 has a lot to live up to, but I am excited that they are taking the anthology approach, as we get a new story with different characters.

Castle Rock is a psychological horror series on Hulu based on the characters and setting of Stephen King.  There will be 10 episodes for season 2.  Similar to the format with season 1, Hulu has released the first 3 episodes as of October 23rd 2019 and it will continue to run weekly episodes on Wednesdays.  Season 2 stars Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins, and Elsie Fisher.  

Season 2 follows a nurse named Annie Wilkes, based on the character of the same name in Misery.  While Castle Rock is not necessarily a prequel, it does bring us familiar elements from both Misery and Salem’s Lot

Annie has a lot of psychological issues and she is on the run with her teenage daughter when she arrives in Castle Rock.  Annie mostly keeps to herself, but when she goes through withdrawal from her medication, her hallucinations start to become all too real, as she finds herself doing some very bad things. 

The plot and characters certainly have a lot of potential, but will season 2 be able to hold its own?  Let’s find out!

The Pros:

Castle Rock season 2 1
Images courtesy of Hulu

Lizzy Caplan is beyond captivating as Annie Wilkes.  

Her performance will chill you to your core, disturbing you in just the right way.  Caplan absolutely nails the role and is the best part of the show so far.  She immerses herself completely in this role, bringing you wild eye stares and horrifying reactions that are so real and terrifying.

The perfect dose of psychological horror.

I love that this show brings you along for the ride, unfolding the mystery with its audience.  While a lot of the scares are psychological, there are some edge of your seat moments that remind us just how deadly an unhinged paranoid person can be.

I think it also works to the show’s advantage not following a specific plot from Stephen King, allowing familiar characters and settings to take on a life of their own, which makes this show unique and original.

The Cons:

Castle Rock season 2 2
Images courtesy of Hulu

A lot of setup.

There are a lot of elements to digest after watching the first three episodes of season 2.  You may find yourself slightly overwhelmed by this, but I had the same issue with season 1 and it ended up paying off, as other elements were revealed later on.

Slow moving at times.

Each episode is about 50-55 minutes in length and the show does move at a slow pace from time to time.  The show is more of a slow-burning psychological horror, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it difficult to binge-watch all at once.  You may want to try one episode at a time, but I thought that there were enough things going on to keep your attention.

So am I in or out? 

Castle Rock season 2 3
Images courtesy of Hulu

I am in 100 percent!  Lizzy Caplan’s performance is enough to keep me invested, but I love the intertwining between the two works from Stephen King, while creating a new story that branches off into something completely different. 

After watching the first three episodes, I am excited to continue watching weekly and I think this will actually make the watch that much more entertaining, as bits and pieces of the mystery are presented.  If you haven’t started watching yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you are a Stephen King fan.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Castle Rock in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “NOS4A2” on AMC: A Faint Spark Glimmering in the midst of all the Backstory

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“There are people in this world with abilities.”  Based on the book of the same name by Joe Hill, NOS4A2 follows Vic McQueen, who discovers an old bridge that will take her and her motorcycle anywhere in the world to find lost things.  We are also introduced to the villain, Charlie Manx, who kidnaps young lonely children, promising to drive them off to Christmasland, but visions of sugarplums have been replaced with nightmares of darkness, as he attempts to essentially drain the life force of the children to maintain his own youthful appearance.  While it appears that he is a vampire, there is definitely some mystery surrounding him and we have a lot left to discover.

NOS4A2 is available to watch on AMC and season one features 10 episodes.  The pilot premiered on June 2nd 2019.  The show stars Ashleigh Cummings, Zachary Quinto, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Virginia Kull, and Jahkara Smith.  We are immediately introduced to the villain, Charlie Manx, who appears to be a creepy old man waiting in a car, but we quickly learn that he is extremely dangerous and is in the business of stealing children, luring them with promises of candy canes and Christmas forever.

The Pros:

Nos4a2 6
Image courtesy of AMC

The acting is convincing and the characters draw you in.

I’m already a huge fan of Zachary Quinto’s work and he does not disappoint in this series, fully embracing the role of the villain.  Even with all the makeup, Quinto makes this creepy old man seem beyond twisted.  I was also pleasantly surprised and entertained by Ashleigh Cummings, who plays our main protagonist, Vic.  The performances are real and compelling and both of these characters appear to have a lot of layers for us to peel back and discover.  In addition, I was intrigued by the character of Maggie, played by Jahkara Smith, who appears to be some kind of psychic librarian, using scrabble pieces to discover clues.  Sounds like a pretty cool ability to me.

The first ten minutes and the last ten minutes give us a glimmer of potential.

I thought that the opening and closing of the season premiere was mysterious and creepy.  I wanted this vibe to continue for the rest of the premiere, but I’m hoping that this glimmer of hope can somehow translate into the remaining episodes, as this show has the potential to be something truly dark and unique.

The Cons:

Nos4a2 5
Image courtesy of AMC

Too much backstory all at once.

While I have not yet read Joe Hill’s novel, the show gave us way too much backstory for a season premiere, which made the pilot seem heavy and boring.  I understand the need to introduce us to these characters, but perhaps Vic’s backstory could have been sprinkled over all of the episodes instead, while introducing us to her interesting abilities.  Also, we barely get to see the villain in the episode and I feel like the time could have been divided up a little bit better to fully capture our attention.

Slow paced premiere.

In addition to the excessive backstory, there was just a really slow paced feel after the opening minutes of the premiere, which initially drew me in.  There are a lot of elements to be discovered here, but I just felt like there was way too much fluff for the majority of the episode and I found myself tuning out quite a bit, which is not a great sign for a season premiere.

So am I in or out? 

Nos4a2 4
Image courtesy of AMC

As of right now, I am on my way out, but I give all shows three episodes to change my mind.  There are some redeeming qualities here and the world of Joe Hill seems intriguing, introducing us to some Stephen King like elements that could be genuinely terrifying and different.  However, the pace of the show needs to pick up and we need to scratch the excessive backstory and focus on the journey ahead across the mysterious bridge.  I’m ready to lose myself, but I need much more in order to do so.  Fingers crossed that the next episodes can capture my full attention!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on NOS4A2 in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

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Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

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5 Reasons why you should watch “Castle Rock” on Hulu: “It wasn’t me…it was this place.”

“It wasn’t me…it was this place.”  If you are a devoted television fan like me, then I’m sure you have heard of the Hulu show Castle Rock, which premiered earlier this summer on July 25, 2018.  While the episodes aired each week, all episodes have now officially been added for season one so this is the perfect time to binge-watch the entire season.

The season features 10 episodes and it has been confirmed that the series has already been renewed for season 2.  To give you some background, the series can best be categorized as a psychological horror show with just the right amount of mystery mixed in.  The series is based on the settings and characters from Stephen King and the executive producer of the show is J.J.Abrams. 

The show focuses primarily on the small fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, emerging us into a dark world filled with unexplained deaths, paranormal occurrences, and the elaborate intertwining of characters.  From the moment you watch the first few minutes of episode 1, you are completely hooked and drawn in to the masterful storytelling, which will have you on the edge of your seat at all times.

While there is quite a bit of set up, the episodes are fast paced and move the plot along seamlessly.  The acting and writing is so real and moving that you will find yourself contemplating the moments you see portrayed even after you are done watching.  This is a must watch show and I have quickly become a big fan.  Please note some spoilers are ahead, but major ones have been left out for your convenience.  My top 5 reasons to check out Castle Rock season 1 are: 

5

Stephen King & J.J. Abrams.

Stephen King is a master at creating a story that is so real and haunting that you find yourself walking along the same path as the characters you are reading about.  King is wonderful at creating vivid images that you can visualize across the page, proving that words can be just as compelling as anything we see on the big or small screen.

Sold already?  So am I.  However, let’s combine that with executive producer, J.J. Abrams, who brought us my favorite show in the world, Lost The world we see on television is so convincing and intricate, which really does King’s stories justice, giving us the chance to get to see these characters and setting come to life right before our eyes.

4

Episode 9:  “Henry Deaver.”

While every episode stands out in its own way, episode 9 did the unthinkable.  It completely blew my mind and immersed me into something so mysterious and compelling.  While I had questions the entire time I watched this episode, I refused to pause it for even a moment.  It’s that good.  I don’t want to give anything away because I want you to truly enjoy the experience for yourself, but episode 9 basically takes everything you think you know about Castle Rock and throws it out the window.

You are basically left in a whirlwind of confusion that will have you glued to the television screen, unblinking.  While it may seem that I am going overboard, this episode truly captured what it means to give the audience answers without every really answering anything concretely.  Sure it sounds confusing, but there is something so magnetic about this episode in particular that it will have you completely mesmerized.

3

The twist and mystery is not completely obvious.

Even though I love a good twist or mystery, I always find myself trying to figure it out the entire time.  Whether it is from a book, movie, or television series, I really enjoy playing Nancy Drew.  In Castle Rock, we are presented with several mysteries and you can’t help trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  However, I never saw the twist in this show coming.

While I came close with some theories, the show does an excellent job of keeping you in the dark for just the right amount of time, while sending clues your way to keep your interest.  If you are able to figure out what’s going on, I absolutely commend you because I was shocked and that much more intrigued once it was revealed.  Even with the twist revealed, there are still so many questions left unanswered.  I’m assuming we will get to this in season 2 so that is even more of a reason why I appreciated it so much.

2

The cast.

The acting on this show is so incredible.  The regular cast stands out on its own with amazing performances from André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek.  While I expected the main cast to be great, I didn’t expect for every single guest star to be unbelievably amazing as well.  In particular, the performances by Terry O’Quinn, Scott Glenn, Noel Fisher, Chosen Jacobs, and Lauren Bowles were outstanding.

Every performance is so real and believable that you really think these people are the very characters they are portraying.  You find yourself sympathizing with them and wanting to know everything about them.  Even characters that show up later in the series still spark an interest, as you find yourself trying to figure out how they come into play.  The intertwining of characters is absolutely spell-binding, bringing Stephen King’s creations to life with new vigor.

1

Episode 7:  “The Queen.”

While I would normally focus on a season finale for my top reason to watch a show, episode 7 is something so incredibly powerful and it deserves every amount of praise possible.  This episode would not have been so amazing without the talented Sissy Spacek, who gave us a performance that was so incredibly heartbreaking that you could almost feel your own heart beat out of its chest just from watching.

During the series, we learn that Sissy Spacek’s character, Ruth, suffers from dementia.  The earlier episodes allowed us to see her from the perspectives of other characters, but in episode 7, everything we see is completely from Ruth’s perspective.  Timelines shift around and we see Ruth combining the past and present, but the episode is executed so well that you don’t lose track of what is happening.  The ending moments of this episode are so heart wrenching.

This episode in particular was probably one of the most incredible episodes I have ever seen on television.  I’m ranking it up there with “The Constant” from Lost, “Salud” from Breaking Bad, and “Becoming Part II” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  If you have seen any of these episodes, then you know that I am not giving out this title lightly.  “The Queen” is out of this world and it elevated Castle Rock to an entirely new level.  Ready to watch? Stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own theories and thoughts on Castle Rock in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Stay up to date on upcoming premieres of horror TV series @ 12nightsofhorror.com/horror-series-coming-soon

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

When Kallie Bennett, a jaded teenage girl plagued by her alcoholic mother and her peers molded out of sheer bubble gum perfection, chases after Alice in Wonderland herself, she ends up lost in her own version of Wonderland, which forces her to face her utmost fears and introduces her to familiar characters with a dark twist. Among these characters is Ches, a gorgeous vampire with a conflicted conscience, who becomes Kallie’s guide and blossoming love interest. She also crosses paths with Queen Hartley, a manipulative witch who has the power to strip away one’s memories and imagination, which brings a bone chilling new meaning to “off with their heads.” In The Search for Alice, Kallie starts to realize that her Wonderland is just as frightening as her own reality and that she cannot always run away from her problems. She must figure out a way to defeat Queen Hartley and return home before it is too late, but she soon learns that escaping Wonderland means leaving Ches behind forever.

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Ranking the top 5 moments from “Riverdale” season 2 episode 17: The Wait is Over!

Happy Thursday TV fans!  After watching the CW’s Riverdale season 2 episode 17 last night, we learned that new alliances have been formed, which bring together former enemies and divide other families even further than Shakespeare could have thought even possible.  While the line between blood and loyalty has blurred almost into non-existence for some, others have put aside their selfish needs to do what is right for everyone.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  In last night’s episode, “Chapter Thirty:  The Noose Tightens,” the car in Swedlow Swamp resurfaces, causing new enemies to come to town and pushing Alice to the breaking point.  Meanwhile, Betty wants a serpent tattoo, Archie continues to act first and think later, and Veronica and Toni team up to rescue Cheryl from the “Sisters of Quiet Mercy.”  My top 5 moments from Riverdale season 2 episode 17 are:

5

“No need to become the Montagues and Capulets just yet.”

It’s all out in the open now that Fred Andrews is running for mayor against Hermione Lodge and it’s about time someone took a stand to protect the town of Riverdale.  When the Andrews family comes face to face with the Lodge family, you can cut the tension with way more than a knife.  Veronica and Archie immediately detect that this is only going to get worse and Veronica tries to make light of it with some Shakespeare humor.  However, we all know that Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy and that the young lovers are the ones who get caught up in the cross fire.  Can the same be said for team Varchie?

4

Nothing stays hidden for long.

Alice is shocked to learn that the car belonging to the man Chic killed, Dwayne, has re-surfaced in Swedlow Swamp.  Alice sits down with FP, Jughead, and Betty to come up with a plan and FP reminds them of the importance of laying low and acting normal in the meantime.  However, Betty even admits that “normal is investigating when the world says they shouldn’t.”  Our favorite detective team, Bughead enlists the help of Kevin to get more information and is shocked to learn that the stolen car has been claimed by the owner.  Chic involves himself further than he should and contacts Darla who is the ex-girlfriend of Dwayne.  As if right on cue, Darla shows up at the Cooper house and tries to blackmail them for $10,000.  Alice is more than happy to give her the money and wipe her hands clean of this whole mess, but the drama isn’t over just yet.

3

“Who are you Archie?”

An excellent question from his mother and Archie should really take some time and look in the mirror to figure it out.  Archie continues to make the wrong decisions and is losing his temper more and more.  Archie even threatens some of Mr. Lodge’s criminal business associates without blinking an eye, which even has Mr. Lodge reminding him that he shouldn’t pick a fight he can’t finish.  After the Lodge family discovers that “Agent Adams” has double crossed them, they are not sure what the long term plan is.  The Lodge family is currently in danger, but Archie will stop at nothing to protect him.  Rather than show up to support his father announcing his intent to run for Mayor, Archie sets the “Dark Circle” loose on their enemies, which leads to him getting a thank you car from Mr. Lodge.  Archie is creating an even bigger divide between him and his family without realizing it, which has us wondering, is all of this really worth losing your soul over?  A Faustian deal comes to mind, especially when we can easily imagine Mr. Lodge as the devil, signing contracts in blood.  Will Archie be able to come back from this?  Will his family be able to forgive him?

2

Alice makes the right decision.

When Betty goes to retrieve the $10,000 from the bank, the man who was Chic’s “manager” shows up as well and it’s clear that the Cooper family is in a lot of trouble again because of Chic.  Luckily, the Serpent gang shows up as back-up to help them.  Darla and the manager leave for now with the cash, but it’s still very dangerous that they know more than they should.  After all, secrets never stay buried for long in Riverdale.  Alice is beyond grateful and makes an announcement to the Serpents that she is done attacking the South Side.  She makes the difficult decision to ask her son, Chic to leave since he has put her family in danger twice now and then shows up later on FP’s doorstep.  Are Alice and FP back together?  Will Chic really stay away?

1

Toni rescues Cheryl.

Fans were more than disappointed after the interrupted first kiss between Choni, but fear not, love is still blooming in the air.  Toni enlists the help of Veronica and Josie to help find Cheryl, as she knows that there is no way that she is being held in a boarding school, especially since her social media account has been dead silent.  The girls go and confront Mrs. Blossom who is armed and ready.  She tells them that Cheryl is mentally ill and even shows Josie the picture that Cheryl sketched not too long ago of the two of them, revealing that Cheryl was the one who was threatening and stalking her.  Josie is out, but Veronica and Toni are not about to completely abandon their friend.  Nana Rose makes the right call and tries to help Toni find Cheryl but is rudely interrupted by Uncle Claudius.  They then learn from Kevin that the “Sisters of Quiet Mercy” practice gay conversion therapy and that there is a secret tunnel that can lead them to Cheryl.  Toni and Veronica put on their fantastic spy-like outfits which have just the right amount of flair and break in.  Cheryl is stunned when she sees Toni and the two share a swoon-worthy kiss in front of the film screen.  The cheers for Choni should be deafening as this kiss was well worth the wait.  Veronica and Toni successfully rescue Cheryl who is surprisingly not broken from this ordeal.  Rather, she says that “revenge is a dish best served cold,” and informs Kevin that she is ready to take on the lead of the school play, which is none other than Carrie White from Stephen King’s classic.  While I’m sure that Cheryl can pull off anything, including being covered in pig’s blood, her family better watch out for sure since Cheryl is no stranger to making things in her way burn to the ground.  Stay tuned!  New episodes return on April 18th!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Riverdale below.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl