Riding the crest of the new wave of streaming entertainment comes Locke and Key.
Based on the award winning horror-fantasy comic written by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez.
The setting is an ancient family house filled with secrets and magic that plays out a lot like the Narnia Chronicles crossed with The Haunting of Hill House.
Locke and Key at its core is about a family dealing with loss, the stages of grieving, their personal demons (figurative and literal) mixed into this are a set of magical keys that give the users abilities and powers and the dark forces that want them.
Having read all of the comic overall the adaptation is an improvement having smoothed off a lot of the rough edges maybe a bit too much in some areas.
Darby Stanchfield ( Scandal) as Nina Locke, the grieving ex alcoholic and mother to Tyler, Kinsey and Bode puts in a solid performance of someone coping with tragedy and doing their best to keep the family together while barely able to do it themselves.
Connor Jessup (Falling Skies) as Tyler Locke, does a great job portraying the eldest son who has internalised all of his rage and sadness with a lot of survivors’ guilt. Tyler isn’t all grim and moody though as he struggles to make sense of the situation he and the rest of the kids find themselves in.
Emilia Jones as Kinsey Locke, the middle child and only daughter of the Locke family. Kinsey is dealing with her fears and overcompensates by being overly reckless as a result. Emilia Jones brings a lot of depth and relateability to her character.
Jackson Robert Scott ( IT ) as Bode Locke, the youngest son of the Locke family brings the child like joy of imagination and exploration to Locke and Key. Being the youngest he is much more accepting of all the weirdness of magic and the supernatural. Also he is authentically weird as kids often are.
Petrice Jones as Scot Cavendish, a British student filmmaker at Matheson Academy, and a love interest of Kinsey. Provides a bit of the comic relief.
Laysla De Oliveira (In The Tall Grass) as Dodge, the “well lady” of KeyHouse is deliciously evil and steals the show for the most part
The Bad Stuff
If you have read the comic Locke and Key is based on you’ll find a lot of the darker or more depraved elements have been removed or glossed over, it makes sense in terms of the adaptation but it could have gone darker.
There is an obviously bad decision the characters make that happens late in the season that all but hands victory to the primary antagonist which doesn’t add up with the previously smart writing.
Locke and Key also has a few teen drama tropes, mean girls being bitchy at school and obligatory eye rolling “you just don’t understand” angst but for the most part the writing holds up.
It does leave the season end with the door wide open to another season so it sequel baits a bit.
The Good Stuff
Locke and Key feels a lot more like a Guillermo Del Toro style dark fantasy than a tame teen drama. The spectacular writing from Joe Hill takes familiar tropes and characters and puts a new spin on them.
The production value feels like a film, better than a lot of films in fact in terms of writing, tone and visual FX.
Although there is a lot of darkness in the story and events it is approached with an equal measure of childlike wonder and exploration.
The casting from the comic is very good, I was reading the comic as I was watching the show and they mixed together in my head so well I often had to stop and thing which thing happened in what medium.
Bode Locke, who seemed really familiar until I realized he was Georgie from IT, is really good. Child actors can really make or break the scenes they are in and he really captures the character.
Locke and Key for better or worse is very much “Horror Lite” with dark fairy-tale vibe to it.
This is something you could watch with your family’s teens without giving them nightmares.
It does lack a bit of the punch of the comic but adapts much of the spirit of the source material closely and the changes make sense
Much like Stranger Things it has many of the same strengths and weaknesses but has a lot less padding.
Watch it if you:
Enjoy Dark Fantasy
The Haunting of Hill House
The Narnia Chronicles
Skip it if you:
Wanted a serious horror series, Check out The Outsider instead
Are expecting an exact duplication of the Comic
Want family friendly entertainment, it’s a lot darker than Narnia
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