The dark fantasy Netflix adaptation of Locke&Key

On February 7, 2020 Netflix launched the series Locke&Key, an adaptation of author Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez’s comic book series. Composed by six miniseries of six issues each, Locke&Key was published between 2008 and 2013 by IDW Publishing; several standalone storylines complete the collection. In the comics version, the whole story is divided in three main arcs revolving around the Locke family’s house and the magical keys connected with it; the web TV series follows the plot rather consistently, given the necessities and limits intrinsic to the translation of diegetic details to the audiovisual medium.

After the assassination of her husband Rendell Locke, on-off alcoholic Nina moves with her three children to the old family house in remote town Matheson (Lovecraft in the comic books). The siblings—teenagers Tyler and Kinsey, along with their little brother Bode—will soon discover that the house is connected to a series of magical keys; moreover, an evil supernatural being is trying to recover them putting the family and their friends in danger. The plot develops around the unraveling of past events their father was involved in, bringing to light the actual—and magical—facts behind the death of three teenage friends of his.
The true asset of the adaptation is represented by the visuals; the rendition of the Head Key mechanism is particularly accomplished. In order to deal with the comic’s complex representation of characters ‘going inside each other’s head’, the Netflix creators came up with a clever, entertaining device that is quite worth the view. The moral intrinsic to the comic books (according to its own authors[1]) remains evident in the TV series, as the characters deal with the dramatic consequences of resorting to the magical keys to solve their problems without truly facing them.
Netflix’s version of Locke&Key comes across as a dark fantasy tale, effacing successfully most of the horror gore distinctive of the comic book and thus making the vision accessible to a wider audience than a faithful horror could have reached.

 

[1] https://ew.com/tv/2020/02/10/locke-and-key-comic-creators-biggest-changes-book-to-screen/


Anna Marta Marini

PhD fellow in North American Studies @ Instituto Franklin–UAH. My main research interests are: CDA related to direct/structural/cultural violence; discursive and cultural representation of the US borderlands and Mexican American heritage; identity re/construction and narration through cinema and comics, especially related to minorities as well as otherness in the US–Mexico borderlands.

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