Locke & Key

Where Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez’s graphic novel had blood and guts, Netflix swap in teenybopper romances and faux scares

Tv Review by Tom Charles | 18 Feb 2020
  • Locke & Key
Title: Locke & Key – season 1
Series Creator: Carlton Cuse, Meredith Averill, Aron Eli Coleite
Starring: Darby Stanchfield, Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones, Jackson Robert Scott, Petrice Jones, Laysla De Oliveira, Griffin Gluck
Platform: Netflix

After Rendell Locke is murdered, his family move to Massachusetts and settle in the punningly-named home where he grew up – Keyhouse. Their new home hides much, but the Locke children turn out to be adept at seeking out its secrets, which take the form of magic keys, each of which is endowed with different powers.

Joe Hill’s source material told you from the off what to expect by naming the town Lovecraft (after the author of creeping horror). Carlton Cuse and his co-showrunners changed this to the more forgettable Matheson, and all Locke & Key’s other issues can be traced back to this change, with almost everything else going from the unsettling to the innocuous. Where Hill and his illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez offered up a tale of scars both physical and mental, where the pain being suffered by The Lockes was manifest in a multitude of ways, Cuse and co instead choose a de-fanged retelling.

This is most telling in Laysla De Oliveira’s enigmatic villain, who calls up to one of the younger Lockes from the bottom of a well. De Oliveira works hard to convey evil manifest, and yet she’s edited and shot more like a mean girl from Riverdale

Even when the writers make clear her bona fides by having her kill, each episode's director seems to be in agreement with the next. The show steadfastly refuses to let her become the creature of death that she is, ready to jump out at us (and The Lockes) from any of the many shadows of Keyhouse.

Locke & Key season 1, streaming on Netflix