The Prince of Horror, Joe Hill, really scored with Locke & Key. The son of Stephen King, the King of Horror himself, wrote a 40+ comic book series that has now been turned into a TV series and the 10-episode adaptation of the comic has got us shouting at the TV, enamoured, and in all, wanting more.
Premiering 7 February 2020, Locke & Key is Netflix’s newest fantasy-horror series developed by Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House). Centred on the Locke family – made up of Nina Locke and her three kids Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke – the show starts with the family moving into Keyhouse in small-town Matheson after the brutal murder of husband and father Rendell Locke.
The manor they move into is huge, slightly rundown, and the matriarch is quick to start trying to fix up the place (very Haunting of Hill House, we know). The older kids struggle to assimilate back into high school while Bode, the youngest of the three, finds himself tangled up playing a cat and mouse game with a demon named Dodge, who’s hunting for magical keys.
Ala The Chronicles of Narnia, the house is home to several magical keys hidden all around that hold a special ability. Some open doors to whole new dimensions, while others open up the heads of others and more. Together, the siblings and their friends from school find means to stop Dodge from getting her hands on all the keys.
Connor Jessup and Emilia Jones’s portrayal of Tyler and Kinsey Locke is commendable. So much of their characters are based on the relationship the two siblings have with each other. The two really bounce off each other, much like most siblings do. The trio makes a believable family and viewers will find themselves wanting the siblings to win in every challenge that they’re thrown into. The biggest prop would go to Jones’ for her portrayal of Kinsey. Kinsey, as frustrating as she can be in the series after using a key to change certain conditions, grows from being a frightened girl to a fearless young lady. But no matter the changes she’s gone through, Kinsey would do whatever it takes to protect her family. It is the core of her character and Jones makes it apparent throughout the season.
Darby Stanchfield’s Nina may seem like a secondary character in the season but her portrayal as a woman broken beyond repair is a powerful one. She may not be at the forefront like Scott, Jessup, and Jones, but whenever she is on screen, you can’t help but feel for her and her pain. It is difficult to imagine how Nina truly feels about her situation, let alone actually portray it. For that, Stanchfield deserves the honourable mention.
The biggest shame, however, is Laysla De Oliveira as the demonic Dodge. Oliveira plays a very key character – evidently as the demon haunting the family – but she barely makes an appearance. Dodge comes and goes whenever it seems convenient for her. We eventually learn why Oliveira’s Dodge isn’t as present in the storyline towards the end of the season, and that’s the one fault of the show – things happened or happen for a reason but the explanation for what could be seen as gaps in writing logic, aren’t spelled out at the beginning. It would’ve been great to establish some rules at the start, and see the stylish and manipulative demon work harder for the keys she lusts after in the earlier parts of the season.
The show moves at a pace that isn’t too quick, but not too slow either and fits the binge-watching requirements nicely. Every episode focuses on a certain key so you won’t ever get bored as there will always be something new happening. Fans of the comic would appreciate this greatly as the comic has so much depth and layers, thus, focusing on one thing at a time during each episode, allows the fans to really relish the adaptation.
Locke & Key’s final episode has to be one of the best episodes of the season. The revelations in the final episode are truly mind-blowing and one can’t help but want more. Given how it ended, season 2 is definitely on the way. For those who love a bit of horror, a lot of magic, a complex story about grief and trauma slapped with big gooey family love in the middle of it all, Locke & Key is for sure a must-watch.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
If the key to get you locked in is a story on demons, magic and family love, Locke & Key has got that all covered for you.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8/10