My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
– Merricat Blackwood
It was with mutual delight and apprehension I caught the trailer, which you can see below, for the new version of We Have Always Lived in The Castle. Aside from being one of my all-time favourite novels, meaning anything less than a great film will disappoint me, the oddball combo of dark humour, sadness and slow-burning terror make it a tough tale to get right. Still, with Shirley Jackson making a comeback, following the excellent Netflix production of The Haunting of Hill House, it seems as good a time as any to tackle the author’s true masterpiece. In its little dark heart, We Have Always Lived in The Castle is a story about the bond between family members – albeit, in extreme circumstances. Merricat, a socially-awkward teen who is obsessed with witchcraft, lives with her agoraphobic big sister Constance and her ailing uncle Julian, in a dilapidated mansion overlooking a New England town. There they stay, as their family have for generations, out of reach of the people of the town who gossip about and shun them. However, the trio’s delicate, insular and co-dependent existence is shaken up with the arrival of cousin Charles, who has come to steal the family fortune.
Merricat is a demanding role, given she can be easily taken as a master manipulator or an emotionally challenged teenager in need of a cuddle. However, Taissa Farmiga is an inspired casting choice and, based on her performances in American Horror Story, I have faith she’ll do the part justice. Alexandra Daddario, from Texas Chainsaw 3D and the Percy Jackson films, joins her as Constance. And, to round off the family, we have veteran actor Crispin Glover. I know you can’t necessarily tell much from a trailer, but it looks set to be a good old-fashioned Gothic horror that delivers on the creepy angle. I’m slightly concerned, by the voiceover, that the melodrama is played up at the expense of the film’s playfulness – something that’s perhaps inevitable when you leave the head of the central character for a more objective view. Though, the jaunty music undercutting the action suggests this maybe isn’t the case. Regardless, if director Stacie Passon can honour the spirit of the novel then we may be looking at something special. Folks in the US can see it next month so hopefully it won’t be too long ’til we get it. In the meantime, you should put the time aside and read the book first. Aside from being an all-time classic, it’s also dead short.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle is released in America on 17 May 2019. For news about a UK release, watch this space.