The Stephen King Adaptation Chapelwaite Brought Gothic Gloom to SDCC 2021

The Stephen King Adaptation Chapelwaite Brought Gothic Gloom to SDCC 2021
A lantern-toting Captain Charles Boone (Adrien Brody) is surrounded by darkness in Chapelwaite. (Image: Chris Reardon/Epix)

Back in May, we got a decent look at Adrien Brody’s new series Chapelwaite, adapted from a Stephen King short story (it appears in the collection Night Shift) thanks to a bunch of images released by Epix, as well as a teaser. The outlook? Gloomy, gothic, and dripping with dread. Today’s San Diego Comic-Con @ Home panel unearthed even more about what to expect from the 10-episode series.

Here’s a fairly detailed synopsis from an Epix press release:

“Set in the 1850s, Chapelwaite follows Captain Charles Boone (Brody), who relocates his family of three children to his ancestral home in the small, seemingly sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine after his wife dies  at sea.  However,  Charles  will soon have to  confront  the secrets of  his family’s sordid history,  and fight to end the darkness that has plagued the Boones for generations.

[Emily] Hampshire plays Rebecca Morgan, an ambitious young woman who left Preacher’s Corners to attend  Mount Holyoke College, and has returned home with an advance  to write a story for the new and prestigious Atlantic Magazine.  Her writer’s block lifts when Boone arrives in town with his children, and despite her mother’s protests, Rebecca applies to be governess of the infamous Chapelwaite manor and the Boone family in order to write  about them. In doing so, Rebecca will not only craft the next great gothic novel, she’ll unravel a mystery that has plagued her own family for years.”

The SDCC 2021 panel featured Brody and Hampshire, as well as executive producers (and brothers) Jason and Peter Filardi. First up: sorting out that semi-confusing title. “A lot of people often mistake Jerusalem’s Lot for perhaps the cousin or the brother of [King’s vampire novel] Salem’s Lot, but they’re actually vastly different. Jerusalem’s Lot takes place in 1850s Maine, and mostly it’s just a series of letters between Charles Boone and his friend Bones, chronicling Charles Boone coming to Maine and taking over this ancestral home that he’s inherited,” Jason Filardi explained.

“What’s wonderful is to look back at the story after we’d shot this, because tonally there’s so many things that I think Peter and Jason captured and managed to infuse all these other elements as well,” Brody said, who noted later that he’d been wanting to play a character like Boone for quite some time before joining the project. “The beauty of Stephen’s writing is that its so cinematic and visual and you really feel the tension and this foreboding sense … [in this story], when things start to go unravel for the characters, [the setting of a superstitious small town in the 1850s] just ratchets that up in a way that feels very truthful and inescapable. I think that’s really fun for the audience to jump into — another time and then to witness all these people who are really helpless.”

Though her character isn’t in the Jerusalem’s Lot short story, Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek) had her own way of tying Rebecca into the source material. “She’s not in the [original] story and she is writing this gothic novel, and I just always thought of her — like if Stephen King was a woman in the 1850s, he would be Rebecca Morgan,” the actor said. “She’s a modern woman … especially being educated at that time … she questions things, she comes in and shakes things up, I think.”

The threat facing the characters (other than the human stuff, including racist townfolk being unwelcoming to Boone’s mixed-race children) in Chapelwaite is kept intentionally vague at first — is it ghosts? Mental illness? Worms? (The series apparently features a lot of worms.) The executive producers teased a slow-burn build that won’t let the audience know what’s going on before the story requires a reveal. “The horror, or the antagonist, is sort of an interpersonal horror or threat that evolves, or devolves as the case may be, and goes even further and evolves into sort of a cosmic horror, which is very Lovecraftian obviously [as it is] in the short story.” Peter Filardi explained. “I think to keep it sort of interesting over 10 hours, it’s fun to sort of change the face of the antagonist.”

Chapelwaite arrives August 22.

Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.