THE SEARCH FOR CASTLE ROCK: Hulu’s Original Short Doc Explores Stephen King’s Cursed Town

In preparation for the streaming network's highly anticipated series, a half-hour primer introduces us to the horror master's favorite malevolent municipality.

"I guess everybody thinks they grew up in the worst place on Earth, huh?" 

Welcome to Stephen King Country, where even the most idyllic towns can own a haunted past. King's most celebrated and iconic cursed municipality is, of course, Castle Rock, which first served as the setting for psychic schoolteacher Johnny Smith's horrific visions of global doom, before providing the central backdrop for thirteen other stories – along with being casually mentioned in scores of King's other nasty bedtime stories. Castle Rock was eventually burned and bombed out at the conclusion of Needful Things (which was published in October of '91, the year when the eponymous, new JJ Abrams series begins).

"Haunted places have long been a staple in Stephen King's writing," opens the near-thirty-minute short doc, The Search for Castle Rock. "That's because the location that inspired his writing have dark histories themselves." Hulu premiered the video, which explores the backstories and real life counterparts of their upcoming Castle Rock, at San Diego Comic-Con (where we also got to see the premiere episode). However, beyond acting as mere promo material, The Search for Castle Rock also dives deep into King's personal history, exploring his coming of age in Durham, Maine (the setting for many of his early printed spook shows), as well as how the fictional town evolved along with the mega-author's writing. 

Hosted by Dave Holmes, The Search for Castle Rock is pretty damn snazzy (not to mention comprehensive), going above and beyond being a mere BTS look. The exploration of Stephen King’s personal history will feel fresh for even the most well-versed Constant Readers, explaining where King discovered a good deal of his inspiration. For example: a Durham, Maine historian illustrates that hamlet's economic decline and decay, which lent his own hometown a depressed vibe that he channeled into the Rock's creation on the page. 

Check out The Search for Castle Rock (in its entirety!) here: 

Equally impressive is the fact that this doc doesn’t just zero in on Castle Rock, either. It also explores Derry - the setting of King's novel and last year's blockbuster, IT - and how it's modeled on Bangor, Maine (right down to the insidious bigotry). The focus keeps coming back to the point that King was constantly fascinated by the notion that the places we grew up in could become poisoned by history, feeding off that evil until they became festering wounds that humans called home. 

Hopefully, Abrams - along with series creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason - milk that thematic throughline for its max potential when Castle Rock hits Hulu tomorrow, July 25th.