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Netflix's Locke & Key opens door to beautiful comic adaptation, say critics

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Feb 2, 2020, 4:05 AM EST (Updated)

Put down that phone! There's no need to call a locksmith, because there's nothing wrong with Netflix's Locke & Key TV show. In fact, the first reviews coming online are calling it a beautifully realized comic book adaptation.

While the project (based on the IDW series of the same name by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez) has bounced around development hell for the better part of a decade, the series carries no mark of its bumpy Hollywood odyssey. In fact, critics are loving the first 10 episodes (which drop on Netflix Friday, Feb. 7), likening them to other Netflix-produced genre hits like Stranger Things and The Haunting of Hill House. Praise for the detailed and spooky production design of the main setting, Keyhouse, is a recurring pattern throughout the reviews you'll find below.

Very much a heartfelt coming-of-age tale, Locke & Key follows the Locke family (Darby Stanchfield, Jackson Robert Scott, Connor Jessup, and Emilia Jones) as they move back to their ancestral home following the death of patriarch Rendell (Bill Heck). Inside, the Locke children discover a number of magical keys that may—er—unlock the mystery of their father's passing. A subsequent exploration of the keys' various powers awakens a demon that seeks to steal the fantastical door-opening implements.

Laysla De Oliveira, Sherri Saum, Thomas Mitchell Barnet, Griffin Gluck, and Coby Bird co-star.

Joe Hill (who also happens to be the son of Stephen King), Carlton Cuse, Meredith Averill, Andy Muschietti, and Barbara Muschietti are among the show's executive producers.

"Locke & Key ... bears not even a whiff of 'development hell' stink. The 10-episode supernatural drama ... is 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." -Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

"Visually, Locke & Key—and, specifically, the production design on Keyhouse—is a wonder to behold. Between this, Haunting of Hill House, and The Umbrella Academy, Netflix has become the go-to place for spooky Gothic mansions with hallways and staircases to spare." -Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

"The world building in Locke & Key is impeccable, mixing the mundanities of school and family life seamlessly with colourful fantasy set pieces. It’s pacey and it looks great, but it’s also a sweet show about a family who cares about each other." -Rosie Fletcher, Den of Geek

"The set design, as with the aforementioned The Haunting of Hill House, is gorgeous and moody and ornate, making Keyhouse very much a character unto itself. And the special effects demanded by many of the found keys are slick and top-notch ..." -Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine

"[A] long wait for a proper adaptation makes the very existence of the new Netflix adaptation of Locke & Key a special gift to fans. While the season feels toned down from the source material at times, it captures the essence of what made the comic book great, even managing to improve it in some ways." -Rafael Motamayor, /FILM

"The slow narrative is constructed not just as a means of getting viewers acclimated to the whimsical rules of the keys, but because the season only covers a small fraction of the comics. They’ve got a lot of filler to inject. Luckily, the production value is exceptional, as is the attention to detail and the unique magic of this universe. Think a smaller scaled coming-of-age fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter." -Megan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

"Locke & Key's strongest moments are so good, they suggest the material might have worked better away from the sprawl of a streaming series, but the middle section hits the familiar problem of narrative sprawl, often playing like one endless episode rather than individual installments." -Keith Phipps, TV Guide 

"Locke & Key is an incredible genre-bending show that has all the makings to become Netflix's next big thing. While it does remain rooted in the world of horror, super heavy or dark tones aren't to be found anywhere throughout. That doesn't stop the show from being spooky and downright unsettling at times, sure to sprinkle in very few jump scares in the initial batch of ten episodes." -Adam Barnhardt, ComicBook.com


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