• Emma Holt

Locke & Key (2020) Netflix Review

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

"I knew it. I freakin' knew it. I always knew. I knew magic existed. This universe is way too complex and random for it not to exist, you know?"

- Scot (with one t), Locke & Key

Nostalgia & Coming of Age Stories

In the true essence of a child's imagination, everyday objects transform into wondrous, magical instruments of great power and destruction. It's a a theme that audiences have enjoyed in countless tales, ranging from The Chronicles of Narnia (2005), to The Wizard of Oz (1939), and so many in between (Harry Potter series [2001-2011], The Spiderwick Chronicles [2008], Jumanji [1995]). More recently, I've noticed a resurgence of incredible storytelling in the genre of children's fantasy, adventure, and coming of age stories. Netflix's Stranger Things was an instant cult classic when it first arrived in 2016. The nostalgic series continued to deliver powerful storytelling and character development in the most recent season (2019) and Netflix has already promised another season (season 4 TBA). Lost in Space, also in the sci-fi drama category was another hard hitter for Netflix this past year, as they debuted a visually stunning and heart-racing season 2. Netflix has announced that they plan to wrap up with a major finale promised in season 3 (TBD 2021). I have to applaud Netflix for investing in this genre and the amazing child actors who make the series so believable. Imaginative, dark and completely all it's own, Locke and Key deserves its place in the canon of what I like to call the "nostalgic adventure" series.

Everyone has their own habits when it comes to television and film. Some find their escape in the reality goodness of 90 Day Fiance or the thrill of Wheel of Fortune. For others, such as myself, I enjoy the type of escape that can only be found in the magic of an everyday adventure gone wild. To this day, one of my favorite stories is Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice in Wonderland. The story begins with nice little girl named Alice who decides to follow a strange looking rabbit...next thing you know, she's in magic world filled with evil queens, cheshire cats and mad hatters. Netflix's Locke & Key demonstrates a deep understanding of the genre as it harnesses the innocence of the childhood nostalgia film, but not without showing the a glimpse of evil.

Brief Overview of Locke & Key (SPOILER ALERT!!!!):

Take something as simple as a key - a thing we use every day, and turn it into a magical door that can take you anywhere. When the young Bode Locke comes across a whispering key at his new house in rural Matheson, Massachusetts, he discovers such a key. He simply whispers "Ice cream shop," places the key in the door, and it takes him there. As Bode discovers more keys whispering to him in the house, old haunts remerge from his recently deceased father's secretive past.

Bode and his siblings - Kinsey and Tyler - find more keys whispering in the house, including a key that allows you to see into your own mind. Unfortunately, by the time Bode learns the true power of the keys, he is tricked by his older and more experienced adversary, the human demon hybrid and key-wielding G.O.A.T., Dodge. Bode, Kinsey, and Tyler race to find more keys as they attempt to eliminate the evil Dodge and return the Locke family keys to the Key House. What the Locke kids soon learn, however, is that Dodge can not be killed by normal means. In fact, the season ultimately ends bittersweetly on this account. I actually wondered to myself if the writers came up with two endings, argued over which one to use, and then decided to use both. If so, I would regard this as pretty genius. The finale left the series perfectly set up for a season two; though, if for some reason they decided not to renew the series, the story would end with an unexpected twist to the normal "feel good" finale that many of us were hoping for.

Indeed, Locke & Key has a dark tone to it akin to Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (2016) and The Golden Compass (2007). It's almost as if the creators of Locke & Key were making a movie soup and they mixed in Chronicles of Narnia with Stephen King's It (2017). The air of psychological and monster horror in Locke & Key makes the characters appear even stronger in the face of danger. Ever wonder how these kids and teen somethings in these shows somehow manage to avoid a number of near death experiences that make this adult quiver in her armchair? Yeah, me too...

The teen actors in Locke & Key are quite convincing, and I particularly enjoyed the characters of Bode and Kensie. The exceptional acting on their part, especially as young adults, is part of what contributes to the suspension of disbelief in this series. "Suspension of disbelief," a term often used in film and literary discussion, refers to, "Aristotle’s principles of theater in which the audience accepts fiction as reality so as to experience a catharsis, or a releasing of tensions to purify the soul". To put that in simpler terms, suspension of disbelief is experienced by audiences - and a release is achieved - when we are successfully taken "away from the theater." When we suspend our disbelief, we allow ourselves to accept that fiction on screen is real (in our minds) for the purpose of our enjoyment. As famous director Roman Polanski once said, "cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theatre."

In today's world of modern streaming services, I would measure a series' ability to "take you away" (or otherwise "suspend your disbelief") by its level of bingeworthiness. On a scale of 1-5, I would rate Locke & Key a solid 5 on bingeworthiness. I think the series could easily be one film, or a multi-film, series simply because the episodes flow so well and they keep you clicking that "Next Episode," button, because you're dying to know more about these keys! Despite it's potential for Hollywood acclaim, I'm glad that Netflix made Locke & Key a series. Making Locke & Key a series allows for more time for character development, as well as more time to simply explore the magic of the keys. It seems there is much more magic to the keys than we are allowed to fully explore in the first season. Much like Daybreak (my last review), Locke & Key is also based on a comic book series (originally created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez). I can't help but notice a trend as Netflix's continues to utilize comic books as inspiration for these spellbinding re-imaginings of supernatural teen dramas. So far I am loving the trend and I hope that Netflix continues to deliver these creative, genre-bending stories.

If you are looking for a true escape into the world of adventure and magic, look no further than Locke and Key for your next series; just make sure you are prepared to see what's hiding in the dark....

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