It’s taken some time for Locke & Key to reach screens.
The comic book by Joe Hill has undergone a number of iterations, broadcasters, casts* and creatives before landing as a 10 part series for Netflix.
Producing is Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel, The Returned), along with Aron Eli Coleite and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House).
This is Supernatural meets Young Adult drama, without ever proving especially spooky or innovative.
It centres around a young family recovering from the death of their father as they relocate to a their ancestral home, Keyhouse, in Massachusetts. Mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield) hopes for a fresh start for her three children, troubled teen Tyler (Connor Jessup), indifferent daughter Kinsey (Emilia Jones) and cluey kid Bode (Jackson Robert Scott).
When they arrive at the grand Keyhouse, described as “very Norman Bates,” they meet Duncan (Aaron Ashmore), brother of their deceased dad / husband. He knows plenty about the house where he grew up, but shares little other than serving as property guide.
While mum Nina has flashbacks over the grisly death of her husband, the youngest family member Bode discovers an abandoned well and a ‘friendly’ voice from deep below. After discovering the house has keys with strange powers he finds a door with a portal.
Meanwhile teens Tyler and Kinsey are getting to know their new school pals in fairly pedestrian high school scenes.
Bode’s initial adventures may evoke Narnia-esque memories of The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe -not that there’s anything wrong with that- but he has the talent to carry it off.
However the wide-eyed spookiness of it all lands without enough tension. While things go bump in the night they are bumps well-traversed in this genre. It’s a long way from the genuinely creepy Haunting of Hill House, but no doubt pitching to a broader audience. Least spooky of all is the ghostly well-resident, Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira).
Unlock without too many expectations….
* both Miranda Otto and Frances O’Connor were once associated with the mother role.
Friday February 7 on Netflix.