Locke & Key

Netflix unlocks a spooky house without managing to offer enough shocks or new ideas.

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.

2 Responses

  1. Massive fan of the graphic novels and I did rather enjoy this adaptation, though there were a few watered down elements. It’s not nearly as gory or horrific as so many of the pages. Tyler has been rather homogenised as a character (he was blanded in to be more of an archetypical jock-with-probs, and where was his fisherman’s hat and hook which belonged to his father which he insisted on wearing all the time?). The way the Head Key worked was reinvented in a way that worked better for TV so I didn’t mind that. But the end game with the opening of the Omega Door should have been one of the most terrifying TV moments of the year…but it really wasn’t.
    Even still, I enjoyed it enough to revel in what they got right (the look of the house, the caves and the all important keys were all nailed) and it’s set up to tell another story from the Keyhouse in the next series so I really hope…

  2. I haven’t finished watching the series but consider that Locke & Key will be a binge watch for younger audiences especially teens, even though the writers have occasional adult themes the story borrows from familiar magical tales including more than a pinch of Harry Potter, confirmed with a cheeky acknowledgement by having ‘this isn’t Hogwarts’ written on the school wall. This show with a bit of a story tweak could be mistaken as a Disney product and with the choice of charismatic young actors must have been intended as a multi season prospect by Netflix.

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