ROB MALDONADO: I heard about Locke & Key when a sales associate at Midtown Comics explained the premise to a customer. I didn’t get around to read it but after having enjoyed Umbrella Academy on Netflix, I was excited to peep this and share it with my fellow binge-watching wife. I took a sneak peak while she browsed social media on her phone on the train to Philly. I was already annoyed after the first car scene. The dialogue was.. god awful.
ROBERT BEXAR: Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I did go into this show not having read the Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez IDW series. Like you, Rob, initially I’d only heard about Locke & Key, never having read an issue and.. I didn’t even watch the trailer. Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t.
ROB: OK, I won’t.
ROBERT: But I didn’t because… haha… funny guy. But, man, when my fiancee said she wanted to watch it, who am I to say no? Better yet, holy crap— I’m glad I said “yes”. The show did face some trials and tribulations and was dropped by both FOX and HULU, but Netflix came in and saved the day…
ROB: But Netflix didn’t save it from me. I had just recently given up on October Faction for the same reasons I couldn’t handle Locke & Key. I can’t do three minutes in a living room while my niece watches some teen show on Nick or Disney. Moments include: Tyler Locke (Connor Jessup) typically getting invited to a “party” the day he arrives to the new school by two teens that appear drafted from an Old Navy commercial. Who is writing this stuff? All scenes with the father, Rendell Locke, played by Bill Heck, are forced. This guy wants to sound like Captain America at all costs. His sincerity rings so false as he delivers all of his lines in a grunting whisper.
ROBERT: Eh… And when Locke is gunned down, mom Nina (Darby Stanchfield) and her three children, Tyler, Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) go back to the family estate in Massachusetts to try and get a new start to their life. Once in their father’s home, they realize that there is magic afoot and not all magic is good magic. What I found neat most is that the house has keys with very specific powers — from mind control to shape shifting. And not only do the kids have to come to grips with the death of Rendell, navigate a new home, a new school, they also have to deal with a possible demon that is coming for their birthrights: the keys.
ROB: Sure, the premise is promising on paper–and maybe not comic book paper. Stanchfield looks like Julia Hagerty from Airplane and delivers the same emotional range. Everyone in this show tries to coin a term from “wack a bode” to “rocky road” and none of it feels natural. Having read that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, the forced jargon makes sense (I will visit the graphic novel to see if it’S just as bad). Ellie (Sherri Saum), Rendell’s high school crew member, looks like a knock Ray Dawn Chong. Her reactions are comical. Duncan Locke (Aaron Ashmore) is disgustingly cliched. I mean, everyone seems like a tool. Tyler Locke transitions into a bearable character as I soldiered through the muck of atrocious acting to be intrigued by the power of the keys.
ROBERT: Haha. I guess they call me the “5 Bible Assassin” for a reason– the show does a lot right. Unlike you, I loved the casting, I thought the writing was smart and the plot was really well thought out. Hill has a lot of his father’s pacing with a story and character development, despite this Locke & Key being a lot less violent and less “straight up horror” than the original comic book. Executive Producer Meredith Averill was also E.P. for House on Haunted Hill. While watching the first few episodes my fiancee turned to me and said, “this series feels like a YA version of House on Haunted Hill”. I think that works to L&K‘s advantage.
ROB: Look. I’ll give you this, Bexar: The series is carried by the plot. As a comic book nerd of almost 1000 years, acquiring magic powers and discovering origins will always fuel my interests. The mind key segment with Kinsey Locke is terribly Pixar’s Inside Out. The CGI segments of the ghost key, while choppy and antiquated, is stunning in concept so I let it pass. I found I only watched this to see which new keys would be found and powers discovered. You couldn’t be more wrong on the series’ casting and Netflix should send me the graphic novel as compensation for the shattered glass in my ears as I endured each conversation from each episode.
ROBERT: Geesh! Where I’ll agree with you is how the show does falter with its CGI. One of the keys allows you to turn into a ghost while on the grounds, and the CGI looks a bit dated. The dialogue for the teens and kids is a little over-the-top, of course, and is way too sharp for most teens, but that is nothing new. Not an entire defense, but it’s been that way since the dawn of teenage-driven shows. And of course, with any horror series you always have the leads make stupid mistakes that make you question just what is going through their heads. In the end, Locke & Key‘s Season One ends with the obvious, huge — and riveting — cliff hanger. It’s a fun series and very binge-worthy. 4/5 Locke & Key’d Bibles.
ROB: I appreciate that this was developed for a larger audience encompassing young adults, but everyone was completely unrelatable. It seems Netflix is going with a formula the way the CW has with the awful dialogue seen in Arrow, Supernatural, Batwoman, etc that turns me off like a colorful new isotope of Kryptonite to Clark. In the defense of teen acting I do enjoy the Runaways. I did enjoy Mean Girls. I’m clearly still struggling with this show but am endeavoring to make it to the very end because of the premise alone. If you enjoy a well acted series like the Outsider on HBO (originally a Stephen King novel), then please stay away from Locke & Key. 2/5 Keys Open Doors.
-Rob Maldonado & Robert Bexar