While Adrien Brody is great and the show does a good job of portraying the vampires and has some good atmospherics, Chapelwaite is too long, too meandering and strays too far from the source material.
Plot: Charles Boone (Adrien Brody) returns to his ancestral home with his three children and soon encounters vampires looking for a book.
Review: I wasn’t sure if I should just put this review as “Chapelwaite” or “Chapelwaite Season 1” – I think this is a limited series, but it seems that there’s no confirmation that I can find on it. Needless to say, I think it should be the one and only season. Part of it is the ending (which I won’t spoil if you’re interested), and part of it is…well…it’s somewhat disappointing. First, though, let me go into the highlights.
Adrien Brody is terrific as the lead character of Charles Boone. He obviously bought into the character’s conflict and does his damnedest to play the character to the hilt. He takes a mediocrely written role and elevates it – that’s a sign of a great actor. I think the show did a decent job with the vampire makeup – vampires are a fickle thing. You can make vampires that sparkle *cough*Twilight*cough* and ones that aren’t convincing, but the effects of these vampires were subtle, which I liked. The show was very moody and grey, which has been a problem for me with most modern fare, but it works – you need all the grey and black that you can get in this show. Choosing Halifax, Nova Scotia was a great idea – it lends a Maritime charm and easily passes for New England. Finally, I oddly liked the title sequence – it reminded me a lot of the bizarre Kingdom Hospital opening, with sombre music and crazy visuals.
Okay, that’s what I liked. Now, let’s get into what I didn’t like. The writing was, to put it mildly, plodding. Plot threads are introduced (like for the constable and the minister) that pay off, but in a very, very minor way and seem inconsequential – and yet, they spend so much time on those sorts of things. There are lots of getting into the Boone lineage, and again, there’s no purpose – there’s no payoff and no consequence. Characters just come and go with little impact (again, the minister immediately comes to mind), and it makes you wonder if they switched writers at some point. It takes so damn long to get to the vampires, it’s outrageous – there’s a lot of time devoted to Boone and his family and Boone’s children are mostly inconsequential.
There’s there the whole romance between the Adrien Brody and Emily Hampshire characters. It felt very forced to me and not very believable. Again, it came out of nowhere, and it did not feel natural. It’s like the plot said, “this man and this woman are single; they should be romantically involved.” It’s very predictable and very dull.
In comparison with the Jerusalem’s Lot short story by Stephen King, it pales in comparison. Jerusalem’s Lot was a claustrophobic, isolated story – the main participants are Charles Boone and his manservant. I guess that’s not popular to portray in today’s PC world (even though I’m pretty sure folks in the 1800s had servants), so they give the Boone character a family, and a love interest, and a constable and minister and doctor — there’s all these other characters, and it’s a wholly different dynamic. It’s almost like, they didn’t know how to stage the story, so they made it as bland and predictable as possible. To take a terrific story like Jerusalem’s Lot and give it this treatment is pretty bad.
So, would I recommend Chapelwaite? Not really. I believe if you’re a hardcore Stephen King fan, it’s something to watch as a curiosity, and if you’re bananas for gothic horror, then I guess you would enjoy aspects of the story. However, it’s just too long, too meandering, frankly, too boring to recommend to a broader audience. If you have to choose between the series or the short story, I would take the short story every single time.