In a large mansion just outside of a small town in Vermont lives two young sisters, Mary Katherine “Merricat” (Taissa Farmiga) and Constance (Alexandra Daddario) Blackwood and their ailing Uncle Julian (Crispin Glover). Tragedy struck the sisters six prior when their parents died of arsenic poisoning. The deadly substance was found in the sugar bowl during a family meal and because Constance was the only one at the table to not use sugar in her meal, she was indicted for the murders.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is based on the Shirley Jackson’s final novel of the same name. While having all the key elements of a mystery, director Stacie Passon’s film is more a character study focusing on themes of the safety of sisterhood and self-imposed alienation.
Six years after the murders, the Blackwood sisters separated themselves from the people they once knew in the neighboring town and confined themselves to borders of their massive estate. Since her acquittal, because she was too pretty to commit murder, Constance has never stepped foot off the property apprehensive because people still believe she is a murderer. Constance is an unlimited source of joy and optimism and always with a smile on her face.
Mary Katherine, on the other hand, is insecure and quiet but loves Constance, her only sister and the only person who actually likes her. For her own personal sanity, Merricat will do whatever it takes to maintain the current state of the mansion and her relationship with Constance and Uncle Julian.
“…sisters separated themselves from the people they once knew in the neighboring town and confined themselves to borders of their massive estate.”
Unfortunately, Merricat is the only one of the three able to go into town purchasing food and supplies. In a constant state of fear for her safety, Merricat resorts to burying coins and personal objects by a secret clearing amongst the trees, she calls “the crater of the moon,” in hopes the spirits will grant her safety amongst the townsfolks.