There’s a new Stephen King series coming our way: The Outsider, an HBO adaptation of one of the horror master’s more recent novels. The story concerns the investigation of a brutal murder with seemingly supernatural connections, and since it’s a Stephen King story, there’s a lot of spooky stuff going on. This new The Outsider featurette has the folks involved with the show talking about what makes a Stephen King tale so darn scary.
Stephen King is hotter than ever. Adaptations of the best selling author’s work continue to be all the rage on the big and small screen, and the latest is headed our way this weekend. It’s The Outsider, an adaptation of a horror mystery the writer published in 2018. The series “follows police detective Ralph Anderson Ben Mendelsohn, as he sets out to investigate the mutilated body of 11-year-old Frankie Peterson found in the Georgia woods. The mysterious circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney Cynthia Erivo, whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable.”
In this featurette, the people involved with the show – cast members, writers, and more – discuss their love of King’s work, while King himself shows up to talk about what makes him tick. King says he learned his “chops” from “some of the original writers who worked for The Twilight Zone…you can make people believe, if you have touchstones in the real world – then you introduce the element of the supernatural.”
He adds: “There are some damn strange things in this world of ours, and what always interests me is…how does a person cope with the unbelievable?”
I reviewed the first six episodes of The Outsider, and very much enjoyed what I saw. In fact, I liked it even more than the book. As I wrote in my review:
There have been many Stephen King adaptations lately, on screens big and small. The Outsider is one of the best because it understands what makes the things that spring from King’s imagination so horrifying. When you pore over King’s prose, and when you watch The Outsider, you feel the gooseflesh prickle up on your arms, because through it all you can’t help think, “This couldn’t possibly happen…or could it?” How scary is that?
Stephen King is now using The Stand to issue warnings about the coronavirus. The author originally did not like when social media started making comparisons between his 1978 novel and COVID-19, but that was before the CDC deemed it a worldwide pandemic. King is not being alarmist in his tweets, he is simply trying to get people to pay attention and practice social distancing. To prove his point, he posted a passage from The Stand.
At the beginning of March, Stephen King tweeted, 'No, coronavirus is NOT like The Stand. It's not anywhere near as serious. It's eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.' This tweet is a lot different from what he posted over the weekend, though he again downplayed the severity of coronavirus when compared to his book.
When posting Chapter 8 of The Stand, he said, 'This is how it works. Heed. But remember COVID-19 is not as lethal as the super flu.' He then tweeted out a very simple and clear message: 'Keep your distance.' You can read the passage from the novel below.
'Joe-Bob felt fine. Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hanscombe's Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons. Harry, a gregarious man who liked his job, passed the sickness to more than 40 people during that day and the next. How many those 40 passed it to is impossible to say - you might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
If you were to make a conservative estimate of five a piece, you'd have 200. Using the same conservative formula, one could say those 200 went on to infect a thousand, the thousand five-thousand, the five-thousand twenty-five-thousand. Under the California desert and subsidized by the tax payers' money, someone had finally invented a chain letter that really worked.'
As you can read in the passage above, Stephen King is illustrating just how easy something like the coronavirus can spread. Most of the world has been practicing social distancing and remaining indoors, but in Southern California and Vancouver over the weekend, where the weather was nice, there were droves of people out in the sun, clearly not practicing social distancing. Parks and beaches will likely be the next things to get shut down.
In The Stand, Stephen King writes about 'Project Blue,' the intense superbug. That strain of influenza was weaponized by the American government and then accidentally released by a soldier who flees the lab where it was developed. After he escapes, he starts to spread the disease until it ultimately kills of 99% of humanity. So yes, coronavirus is bad, but it is not 'Project Blue,' so one can understand why King wanted to keep his distance from that comparison.
The Stand is fiction and a form of entertainment, though it might not be the best thing to read or watch at this very moment. There are plenty of other Stephen King...
HBO’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider turned out to be a ratings hit for the premium cable network. So, it’s a wise move that they engineered a wide open door for season two, with Holly Gibney’s fate left ambiguous and another possible El Cuco host in the mix. These wrinkles arrived courtesy of screenwriter Richard Price, who not only engineered a damn watchable take on a complex novel to adapt, but he also pointed the story beyond King’s original vision and chain of events.
Jason Bateman, who directed the first two episodes and sporadically appeared as accused murderer Terry Maitland, recently spoke with Collider and confirmed that HBO’s definitely considering a second swing at El Cuco. Furthermore, Price is exploring some steps to get the story running again. Finally, some good news:
“I know that they’re talking about it and Richard Price is playing with some ideas and taking some first steps as to what that second year might and feel like. Obviously, it’s a complete free-ball because the first season exhausted 100% of [Stephen King’s] book, the IP. So, it’s really all up to him. I never like to step on the lawn of the writers. It’s something that I’ve always stuck with on Ozark. I leave Chris Mundy completely alone and I do my job as a director once I get the script. I chime in every once in a while and offer my opinion, but it’s always for the writer to take if they want and discard if they want.”
Hell yeah, that sounds like a promising update, even if there’s no actual confirmation from HBO yet. I think it will happen! Even horror icon Robert Englund couldn’t stop raving about this show, and the ratings eclipsed that of Watchmen and True Detective, so the public demands it. Of course, the public also wants to make sure that a followup is just as good as the first round, but if Price is in charge of the story, it’s in solid hands.
We probably shouldn’t expect Bateman to be too involved, however. Following the stunning ending to Ozark‘s third season, he’ll surely be in the thick of starring in and directing a fourth season of the Netflix show soon. He told Collider that he’d have loved to direct more of The Outsider, but it’s just impossible to do it all on both shows. Clearly, his work on the HBO show made for one heck of a launch, and the rest of the team took it from there.
As for Price, he previously suggested to IndieWire that HBO was open to a sophomore run: “There’s no such thing as a series that, if it does well, they’re not going to want a second season.” Again, this sounds like they’re inching toward an announcement, eventually, although things are obviously on hold in many places with the world’s current situation. Fingers crossed.