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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018)

Not Rated | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 17 May 2019 (USA)
1:51 | Trailer
Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian live in isolation after experiencing a family tragedy six years earlier. When cousin Charles arrives to steal the family fortune, he also threatens a dark secret they've been hiding.


Stacie Passon


Mark Kruger (screenplay by), Shirley Jackson (based on the novel by)
4,677 ( 196)
1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Taissa Farmiga ... Merricat Blackwood
Alexandra Daddario ... Constance Blackwood
Crispin Glover ... Uncle Julian
Sebastian Stan ... Charles Blackwood
Paula Malcomson ... Helen Clarke
Peter Coonan ... Bobby Dunham
Ian Toner Ian Toner ... Jim Donnell
Joanne Crawford ... Stella
Anna Nugent ... Lucille Wright
Peter O'Meara ... Sam Clarke
Luan James Geary Luan James Geary ... Sean Harris (as Luan James-Geary)
Cormac Melia Cormac Melia ... Tim Harris
Liz O'Sullivan Liz O'Sullivan ... Mrs. Harris
Bosco Hogan ... Old Ned
Stephen Hogan ... John Blackwood


Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian live in isolation after experiencing a family tragedy six years earlier. When cousin Charles arrives to steal the family fortune, he also threatens a dark secret they've been hiding.

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Did You Know?


Unhappy with previous adaptations of Shirley Jackson's work (including the critically panned 1999 film The Haunting (1999)), Jackson's eldest son Laurence Hyman worked closely with the production to insure the film kept to the book's spirit. See more »


[first lines]
Merricat Blackwood: [narrating] My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am 18 years old, and I live with my sister, Constance. She is the most precious person in the world. The Blackwoods have always lived in this house. We have never done anything to hurt anyone. We put things back where they belong. And we will never leave here. No matter what they say .. or what they do to us. Never.
Merricat Blackwood: But a change is coming. And nobody knows it .. but me.
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Daddy's Home
Written by James Sheppard & William Miller
Performed by Shep & The Limelites
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User Reviews

This Ain't It
22 May 2020 | by JoshuaDysartSee all my reviews

It's strange when the biggest change you make in adapting a novel to the screen is to add lots of physical violence against the female characters (even a backstory of abuse that's not stated in the source material).

It's interesting that a female filmmaker has done so much to take the inherent dark power away from the female characters and decided instead to victimize them.

I absolutely love Jackson's dark comedic masterpiece which this is based on, so even though it's never really a good idea to see an adaptation of a book you adore, I watched this anyway.

And I admire some of it, I do. There's a couple of standout sequences from the novel that I thought they handled really well, but ultimately it takes what's subtle about the story and makes it obvious, and takes what's obvious about the story and buries it under uninspired dramatization.

There seems to be an active attempt here to flesh out the mysterious unearthly tone of the book, making it all appear mundane and boring. The now victimized Merricat is almost completely robbed of her personal agency.

The filmmakers labor a reason for the poisoning of the family in the past, explicitly inferring abuse by the father and suggesting it was all an act of self-defense by his daughter. But Jackson stood firm on the idea that her readership make its own inferences, and a lot of the evil joy of the novel is in the idea that perhaps the children are just... actually bad.

In fact, in the book, Merricat is often called wicked (sometimes jokingly, sometimes not so). But in the film it is the deceased father who is called wicked, who is maligned as an abusive elite who detests the lower classes. Jackson approached male and female power, as well as social class, with so much more depth and nuance than this movie can manage.

But the worst sin is that the film bleeds the story of almost all its humor. In the novel there is joy in the house before outsiders arrive for social tea or, in the case of Charles, to get at their hidden money.

I've always read Uncle Julien's obsession with the death of his own family as almost gleeful. And the text absolutely supports a good nature humor from the sisters towards their mad uncle's meanderings. It's all very funny and brings light into the house. It's the outsiders that come in and question the family's delight in their own tragedy. All of that is lost here.

In fact, Uncle Julian, an extremely funny character in the book, is played so morosely and quietly that it's not until his eruption at Cousin Charles that we get any life from the character at all (that sequence is quite good).

The ending is, of course, a heartbreaking departure that shows no fidelity to the spirit and theme of the novel, and worse, no real imagination.

At the very least, this movie needed a little more formal composition and a lot more wit to pull it off. I long for a Jane Campion or Yorgos Lanthimos to tackle this material.

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Release Date:

17 May 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle See more »

Filming Locations:

Dublin, Ireland See more »


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