Locke & Key is out on Netflix today! The series, based on the comics by Joe Hill, is a dark fantasy that will keep you guessing until the final episode.
After Rendell Locke (Bill Heck) is murdered, his family moves into his childhood home. Key House is a sprawling mansion that has been in the family for generations. The mansion is filled with secrets, of course, and soon mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield) and her three children Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) find themselves in the middle of a mystery that will test them to their core.
As in the source material, there are a series of mystical keys hidden inside the home, each with its own magical purpose. The Anywhere Key, inserted into any door, allows you to travel anywhere in the world that you can visualize in your mind. The Head Key, inserted into the back of someone’s neck, will allow you to step into their mind with them and experience memories, gain knowledge, etc. The Music Box Key, inserted into a magical music box, allows whoever turns the key to control the actions of another person.
What at first seems like a whimsical idea, however, soon turns dark as they realize a mysterious woman named Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) is also after the keys and she’ll stop at nothing to obtain them.
Adaptation is always an interesting process, and the showrunners on the series seem to have mostly made the right decisions in the case of Locke & Key.
They give us just enough information to drive one episode to the next while holding just enough back to make us question where the path is leading. It’s a great balance except for multiple moments in the center of some episodes when the pacing seriously slows down. Exposition is key to this story, but it seems to come in a jerky fashion that I hope smooths out in a second season of the show.
The central cast is excellent and the characters themselves are fleshed out quite well. We understand their motivations and even their bad decisions and it’s hard not to root for the Locke family, in general.
It’s a bit of a cliche to say that Key House, itself, is a character, but it’s almost unavoidable in talking about the series. It whispers, tempts, and actively hides secrets from its residents. There are moments when it seems to almost breathe, and in those moments, it truly feels alive.
Unfortunately, most of the secondary characters within the series are not given the same treatment.
Aaron Ashmore (The Thaw) turns in a decent performance as Rendell’s brother, Duncan, but he’s given so little to do throughout most of the series that it is easy to forget he even exists until he shows up once again.
Tyler and Kinsey’s classmates are reduced to flimsy two-dimensional stereotypes–the smart brunette, the cute boy with a crush, the mean blonde–when they could have been so much more and actually contributed to the storytelling of the series. Again, hopefully, we will see more from them should the series be renewed for a second season.
Despite these minor setbacks, however, Locke & Key is a fun watch with genuine chilling moments mixed with just the right amount of family drama and trauma to keep the viewer engaged.
The showrunners also include a few Easter eggs and special appearances by a couple of horror legends…but I’ll let you watch to find them yourselves.
All ten episodes of Locke & Key are available on Netflix today. Check out the series trailer below and let us know if you’ll be watching in the comments!