Evil worms its way into a tiny New England town in this harrowing adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Jerusalem’s Lot.” Set in the mid-19th century, the series stars Oscar winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) as Charles Boone, a sea captain who moves with his three children into an ancestral home in Preacher’s Corners, Maine, following the death of his Polynesian wife. It’s not a happy homecoming.
“[There’s] this built-in animosity because of the Boone family’s past wrongs and, on top of that, the children being foreigners,” notes Brody. “This quaint town is very challenging.”
Helping ease the transition is Rebecca Morgan (Schitt’s Creek alum Emily Hampshire), a progressive writer who takes a job as governess to the children (above, from left, Ian Ho, Sirena Gulamgaus and Jennifer Ens, with Brody). Her real motive: “To write this story about them and serve it up to the Atlantic Monthly,” says Jason Filardi, who cocreated the show with his brother Peter. “We always looked at her as a Mary Shelley [author of Frankenstein].”
Meanwhile, the children’s father runs the sawmill that’s part of his legacy. Soon it becomes clear that xenophobia and the frightful visions plaguing Boone (his bathwater turns to the worm-ridden soil of a grave) are the least of their worries, as troubles of a more malevolent nature begin to surface. “I love the transition,” Brody says of Charles’ slow-burn realization that the scary things he’s experiencing aren’t all in his head. “He unravels, and then the whole world starts to unravel around them.”
While fans of King’s tale know what that means (“Jerusalem’s Lot,” from the collection Night Shift, is a precursor to the vampire classic ’Salem’s Lot), the folks of Preacher’s Corners have no idea what they’re in for. “This is 1850, the time period before [Bram Stoker’s] Dracula was written,” Jason explains. “Our characters are learning the rules as they go along. It’s not like they know, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s vampires, and this is how you kill them.’”
Just as daunting offscreen, the Filardis say, was expanding the source material—“really just a series of letters between a couple of characters,” Jason notes—into 10 episodes of television that earned the author’s seal of approval. “You basically do a proposal; he reads it and gives either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down,” Peter adds. “He’s the master.”
Chapelwaite, Series Premiere, Sunday, August 22, 10/9c, Epix