"We Have Always Lived in the Castle" Movie Review

Updated on June 6, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
We Have Always Lived in the Castle | Source

There was once a time that We Have Always Lived in the Castle would have been considered a horror film, a gothic tale of suspense and darkness that fueled nightmares in the mind of many a youngster during the wee hours. Nowadays, though, in a time when “horror” means constant, hollow jump scares and mindless gore, films like Castle are largely ignored and swept aside as a genre-less lost soul. It’s a shame, really, considering how deliciously creepy and unnerving Castle is without ever getting any more violent than, say, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children… and, frankly, not even that much.

Based on Shirley Jackson’s classic 1962 novel, Castle stars Alexandra Daddario and Taissa Farmiga as the young Blackwood sisters Constance and Merricat (Mary Catherine), who keep to themselves in a mansion on the hill in a small Vermont village. Mystery has surrounded the sisters ever since their parents were fatally poisoned six years earlier; Constance stood accused of the crime but was later acquitted. The pair have shut themselves off from the accusing glances of the townsfolk entirely, with the exception of Merricat’s weekly trips to the general store for groceries—visits which are fraught with accusations of witchcraft and cries for her to skedaddle back home.

Living with the girls is their oddball Uncle Julian (Crispin Glover), who was also a victim of the poisoning and is now chronicling the family’s history from his wheelchair. The trio is soon joined by visiting cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan), a city-slicker whose intentions are quickly revealed to be anything but aboveboard; the women are sitting on a hefty family fortune, and he wants in.

Things escalate quickly (naturally), giving veteran TV director Stacie Passon (House of Cards, American Gods) plenty of opportunities to let herself loose. The creepy undercurrent that had been bubbling below the surface is set free with fury and will abandon, as the destruction teased in the film’s prologue is visualized. All at once Castle goes from a quirky and mesmerizing suspense film to gripping pseudo-terror, and Passon deftly melds the two.

Screenwriter Mark Kruger (TV’s Salvation) faithfully adapts Jackson’s novel, taking care to maintain all the salient plot points while also leaving his own stamp on it, but it’s the performances, though, particularly from the two leads, that make Castle worthwhile. Farmiga gives Merricat a slouch and a feeling of sorrow that plays exquisitely off Daddario’s Stepford Wife-ish portrayal of Constance as a crinoline-clad homemaker with a forced smile and melancholy eyes.

There’s nothing in We Have Always Lived in the Castle that will frighten anyone to the point of turning away, and it’s certainly not horror (at least not in the modern sense), but there’s plenty that will linger long after the Blackwood women’s story resolves—a haunting reminder of what “scary” movies used to be.


4/5 stars

'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)