It's been a long time coming for the TV adaptation of Locke and Key, the fantasy-horror comic series written by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. There were plans for two previous TV series (first on Fox, later on Hulu), and a potential film trilogy. The Netflix adaptation drops all 10 episodes of Season 1 on February 7, and so far the show has garnered mostly positive reviews. That said, the reviews suggest that die-hard comic fans should expect some significant changes to the story they know and love.
Locke and Key follows three siblings who move to their mysterious ancestral home after the sudden death of their father. Once there, they discover the house is full of magical keys that seem to have a connection to their dear old dad's untimely demise.
Currently, Locke and Key is sitting pretty at 93 percent "Fresh" on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. That's a smidge deceptive, though. Look closer and you'll notice there's a lot of rather middling scores of the 7/10 variety. Broadly speaking, those who weren't familiar with the comics expressed greater enthusiasm for the show, while longstanding fans of the source material were more ambivalent, lamenting that the Netflix series softened the story's grittier elements and themes.
Good news first: Entertainment Weekly had one of the most positive takes on the show, calling it "surprisingly rewarding" and praising its accessibility to newcomers. The venerable outlet praises Locke and Key as "an entertaining and heartfelt family adventure about growing up, coping with loss, and finding a demon at the bottom of a well on your haunted estate. Imagine Goosebumps for grown-ups — or Stranger Things on antidepressants.
SlashFilm was also taken with Locke and Key, calling it "immensely rewarding" for fans of the comics, while noting that the Netflix adaptation makes some rather bold departures from the source material. Still, they maintain, "the core of the story remains as good as ever."
Elsewhere, Collider was less impressed with the show's failure to capitalize on some of its more intriguing setups and posited that the story might be better suited to a weekly format than the binge model. A "lack of palpable stakes bleeds into the rest of the story, which is more interested in withholding information than building a solid foundation," the review says, concluding that "a show about wild, dark magic shouldn’t feel so convenient."
Gamespot found the adaptation underwhelming, due to the "blunted horror and watered-down characters." The comics' body horror has been largely removed from the Netflix adaptation, and the reviewer points out "new fans might enjoy the show's playful tone, but those expecting the comics' darker side will be disappointed."
The showrunners clearly believe in the series, despite the smattering of naysayers. Though Netflix has yet to renew Locke and Key for a second season, the creative team is already hard at work on scripts for the next batch of episodes.
Locke and Key comes to Netflix February 7.