We Have Always Lived in the Castle (film)

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle
We Have Always Lived in the Castle.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStacie Passon
Produced by
Screenplay byMark Kruger
Based onWe Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
Music byAndrew Hewitt
CinematographyPiers McGrail
Edited byRyan Denmark
Distributed byBrainstorm Media
Release date
  • September 22, 2018 (2018-09-22) (LAFF)
  • May 17, 2019 (2019-05-17) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a 2018 American mystery thriller film directed by Stacie Passon, written by Mark Kruger, and starring Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Crispin Glover, and Sebastian Stan. It was based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson.

It premiered at the LA Film Festival on September 22, 2018, to positive to mixed reviews, praising the performances and direction but criticizing the lack of dramatic atmosphere. It was released on May 17, 2019 by Brainstorm Media.


18-year-old Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood lives in isolation on the family estate with her older sister Constance and their ailing uncle Julian. Constance has not left the house in the six years since she was tried and acquitted of the poisoning death of her parents. Every Tuesday, Merricat must go to the village to do the shopping, where she is harassed by the villagers, who believe Constance has gotten away with murder. Merricat practices her own brand of protective magic by burying articles of power in the grounds around her home to keep evil forces at bay.

Constance sees only a single family friend, Helen Clarke, who comes to tea every week. Helen tries to convince Constance that she should rejoin the world. This enrages and terrifies Merricat, who responds by creating even more powerful magic to prevent Constance from leaving.

The following Thursday, Constance sends Merricat on an errand to town. Merricat is distressed at the thought of going into town on the wrong day and has no time to check her magical safeguards before leaving. When she returns, she finds all her wards have been unearthed. Rushing to warn Constance, she finds Constance with their cousin Charles, who has come to visit.

Over the next few days, Charles attempts to lure Constance away with the promise of seeing the world while setting his sights on the family's fortune locked in a safe in the study. Constance is charmed by the attention and begins to act more and more subservient toward him. At the same time Charles secretly behaves condescendingly to Julian and taunts Merricat with the idea of stealing her sister. Merricat retaliates by casting magical spells on Charles, destroying his room and belongings, and speaking to him only in descriptions of poisonous plants.

After several days, Charles has enough of Merricat's defiance and destructiveness and threatens to punish her. In revenge, Merricat secretly throws everything on Charles' desk, including his lit pipe, into a wastebasket. After defying Charles by speaking when he warns her not to, Charles chases her upstairs and beats her, while Constance, paralyzed with fear, is unable to stop him. He is interrupted by the smell of smoke and discovers that his room is on fire.

The fire department arrives, along with the villagers who call to let the house burn. Constance and Merricat hide downstairs as the fire is extinguished. The villagers rush into the house and begin to destroy it, forcing the sisters to flee. The mob seems ready to attack them, but Helen Clarke's husband intervenes and announces that Uncle Julian has died of smoke inhalation. The mob disperses, and the sisters take refuge in the woods overnight.

The following morning, the sisters return home and begin barricading the doors and windows from the inside. With the upper floors destroyed, the remains resemble a turreted castle. Merricat announces to Constance that she intends to poison the whole village; Constance says that this is what Merricat did once before to their parents and expresses gratitude that Merricat saved her from their wicked father. Over the course of the day, the villagers leave gifts of food at the door and apologize for destroying the sisters' property, but no one is allowed inside.

Charles returns, begging Constance to let him in. When the sisters refuse to open the door, Charles enters the house by force and attacks Constance. Merricat bludgeons him to death with a glass snowglobe, and they bury the body in Constance's garden.

Now in the present, the sisters are still in the process of cleaning what remains of their house when two village children arrive outside to taunt them. Merricat steps outside unexpectedly, causing the children to flee in fear. As Merricat returns, Constance tells her sister that she loves her, and Merricat, for the first time in the film, smiles.




The film, the first screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel of the same name, was originally reported to be in development in August 2009, when Michael Douglas' production company Further Films announced its attachment to the project written by Mark Kruger. Jackson's eldest son, Laurence Hyman, was also reported to be producing in some capacity.[2] In August 2016, Stacie Passon was reported to be directing the film, with Jared Ian Goldman and Robert Mitas producing, and Douglas and Robert Halmi Jr. serving as executive producers.[3]


In March 2010, it was revealed that Douglas would star in the film, and Rachel McAdams and Saoirse Ronan were also rumored to be attached.[4] On August 9, 2016, Sebastian Stan's casting as Charles Blackwood was announced.[3] That same day, Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Willem Dafoe, and Joanne Crawford were confirmed to star in the film.[5] Farmiga and Daddario were cast in the main roles of protagonist Merricat Blackwood and her sister Constance Blackwood, respectively.[6] On August 11, 2016, Crispin Glover was cast as Uncle Julian Blackwood, replacing Dafoe in the role.[7] Peter O'Meara joined the cast on August 21, in the supporting role of Sam Clarke.[8]


Principal photography began on August 8, 2016 in Bray and Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Farmiga, Stan, and Peter Coonan were spotted on set for the second day of filming in the village of Enniskerry, County Wicklow.[9][10] Production continued in Dublin, where it concluded on September 9, 2016.[11]


In January 2017, it was reported that Andrew Hewitt would compose the film's score.[12]


The film had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival on September 22, 2018[13][1] and was released on May 17, 2019, by Brainstorm Media.[14]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86% based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 7.31/10.[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16]


  1. ^ a b "We Have Always Lived in the Castle". Los Angeles Film Festival. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (August 17, 2009). "Further Films visits the 'Castle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Kit, Borys (August 9, 2016). "'Captain America' Actor Sebastian Stan to Star in Thriller 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  4. ^ Steven Miller, Max (March 22, 2010). "Rachel McAdams May Take on Horror with 'The Orphanage' and 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle'". Collider. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (August 9, 2016). "'Captain America's' Sebastian Stan to Star in 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' Movie". Variety. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (August 10, 2016). "Alexandra Daddario, Taissa Farmiga Join Sebastian Stan in 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. ^ Galuppo, Mia (August 11, 2016). "Crispin Glover Joins Sebastian Stan in 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ Murphy, Niall (August 21, 2016). "Peter O'Meara jets in to join We Have Always Lived in the Castle". Scannain.
  9. ^ "Sebastian Stan and Taissa Farmiga on the Set of We Have Always Lived in the Castle". ComingSoon.net. August 10, 2016. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  10. ^ Brady, Sasha (August 10, 2016). "Love/Hate's Peter Coonan looks very different from gangster Fran in latest movie role". Irish Independent. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  11. ^ Piers McGrail [@PIERSMcGRAIL] (September 13, 2016). "Wrapped on We Have Always Lived in The Castle. Thanks to an amazing, hardworking cast and crew" (Tweet). Retrieved October 29, 2016 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ "Andrew Hewitt to Score 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle'". Film Music Reporter. January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  13. ^ Kilday, Gregg (August 15, 2018). "LA Film Festival to Open With Music Doc 'Echo in the Canyon'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "We Have Always Lived in the Castle". CinemaVillage.com. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  15. ^ "We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "We Have Always Lived in the Castle Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 19, 2019.

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