Locke and Key review: Stranger Things meets Haunting of Hill House in magical comic book series
Magical keys, mysterious deaths and a gang of High School kids fighting off monsters and falling in love. Locke & Key looks destined to be a mega hit for Netflix.
There’s a point near the end of episode one of Locke and Key that will make you mouth ‘oh my God’. Then there’s a closing scene in episode two, which will make you shout, ‘Oh. My, God!’
And from that point in, it’s highly likely you’ll end up spending the rest of your day watching all the remaining episodes, because the giddy mix of fantasy, high school hijinks and haunted house chills are utterly addictive and transfixing.
Adapted from a critically acclaimed comic book series created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, the Netflix series captures the essence and spirit of the wildly imaginative source material.
The series follows the Locke family, who move into their ancestral home in Matheson, Massachusetts after their father is tragically murdered.
Mother Nina Locke (Darby Stanchfield) is recovered alcoholic, attempting to hold her family together. Brooding and chiselled eldest son Tyler Locke (Connor Jessup) is an ice hockey star, a hit with girls and warm-hearted, but he’s haunted by the frosty relationship he had with his dad before he died.
Kinsey Locke, played by the outstanding Emilia Jones, is battling teenage insecurities and has been hit the hardest by the death of the father she viewed as a hero. And Jackson Robert Scott (It Chapter One) plays youngest sibling Bode Locke, whose adventurous spirit and infectious enthusiasm sees him the best equipped for the sudden changes in their lives and the dangers ahead.
Their new home, Key House, where their father Rendall grew up, is not only haunted by a dark past and many unsolved mysteries, it also contains a series of very special keys.
When the Locke kids begin to hear whispers in the shadows, the magical keys beckon them into a new world where everything they previously thought was true is turned upside down.
Producers Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Meredith Averill (Haunting of Hill House) have perfectly captured the world of Key House and they successfully build a genuine sense of anticipation for the big reveal of each key’s special powers.
From the spectacular Ghost Key sequence, which sees one of the Locke siblings zooming through the skies of Matheson, to the technicolour wonder of the Head Key, which allows the owner to take a walk through their own brain, the series is dazzling with creativity
The keys gift the Locke family powers, but also draw demons to them from the shadows and the dangers they face from a devilishly sinister Laysla De Oliveira as ‘Well-Lady’ Dodge only increase as the plot twists and turns into a white knuckle finale over the final two episodes.
Locke and Key’s ability to jump between genres means that the 10 episode run rattles along at speed. In one episode it feels like we’re watching a John Hughes style High School adventure as Kinsey’s school gang of aspiring movie-makers end up in peril. And in others, the show explores darker themes, as Nina’s struggles with alcohol return and Kinsey literally extracts the emotion of fear from her mind, altering her personality with dangerous results.
If you've loved Netflix series like Stranger Things and the Haunting of Hill House or remember fondly the young adult chills of Goosebumps, Locke and Key is a must-watch.
For those who haven’t read the comics, there are a glut of unexpected twists and the excellent young cast are an immediately endearing and welcoming gang.
By the time a seriously cool Billie Eilish needle drop comes in episode nine, viewers will face that perfect Netflix sweet spot of desperately wanting another episode, but not wishing for the series to end.
Thankfully the show wraps up with a delicious twist. Although you always sense one is coming – hey there’s 10 minutes still to go and everything feels just a little bit too happy – when it actually arrives you’ll be amazed that you missed the clues along the way.
The final scenes perfectly set up a second season, which have the potential to step into exciting new areas as a large chunk of the original comics have been covered across these 10 episodes.
We only wish we had a Netflix Key that could bring us the second season right now.
Locke and Key is streaming now on Netflix.