11:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Locke & Key': What to Know About Netflix's New Thriller
After a sprawling decade-long journey, the impossible is now not only possible, but happening: Locke & Key, based on Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's celebrated comic book series of the same name, is making its television debut.
First created as an abandoned pilot for Fox, then reimagined as a failed film trilogy, then remade once more as a Hulu pilot before arriving at its current and actual incarnation as a Netflix series, Locke & Key comes equipped with a production mythology almost as sprawling as the one at the heart of its fictional universe — emphasis on "almost," as the tale concocted by Hill and Rodriguez is an elaborate one, with a haunted mansion and some mythical keys right at the heart of it all.
From IDW Publishing, the Locke & Key comic book series is one that makes great use of the artform, with both Hill's plot turns and Rodriguez's mesmerizing illustrations hard to imagine arriving with the same impact in any other medium. Look no further than the "Head Key," an object that quite literally allows its wielder to unlock their own brain for others to see, as the first exhibit in why Locke & Key was such a difficult property to adapt for television; it's an idea that works very specifically for the paneled page, one that requires reimagining without sacrificing whimsical vision on the journey to television.
Whether or not the series succeeds on that front remains an unknown until the first season bows Friday on Netflix, with all ten episodes available for consumption. At the least, with Lost veteran Carlton Cuse and Haunting of Hill House alum Meredith Averill serving as co-showrunners, Locke & Key comes to the screen with two mythologically-savvy and horror-heavy minds at the helm. Here's what they're tasked with bringing to life:
The Locke Family, the heart of the series. The story centers on widowed matriarch Nina (Scandal star Darby Stanchfield) leading her three children on a cross-country trip away from the tragic murder of their father, Rendell (Bill Heck). The kids include:
• Eldest son Tyler (Connor Jessup), an athlete who can't help feeling ownership over his father's death;
• Middle child Kinsey (Emilia Jones), suffering from fear over the trauma of losing her dad, not to mention uprooting her life in the middle of adolescence;
• and Bode, the youngest of the three by far, and indeed one of only two actor holdovers from the Hulu pilot. It star Jackson Robert Scott played Bode in the abandoned Hulu adaptation, and he plays him still in the Netflix version.
As the youngest of the Locke siblings, Bode serves as the audience's entry point into the world of Keyhouse, the childhood home of Rendell Locke. Based in Massachusetts, a far cry from their original home in Washington, Keyhouse is known throughout the town of Matheson (originally known as Lovecraft in Hill and Rodriguez's comic book) as a haunted house — and little does the town know how spot-on the assessment truly is. Through Bode, the Locke siblings and the Locke & Key viewers alike learn all about Keyhouse, and the various magical keys at its heart. Among those keys:
• The Anywhere Key, which can be used to turn any door in the world into a portal to any other spot on the planet;
• The Ghost Key, which allows the user to pass through a door, detach their spirit from their body, and fly around like — you guessed it — a ghost;
• and the aforementioned Head Key, which allows its wielder to peer inside his or her own mind. The TV series handles the exact mechanics of the Head Key differently than its depiction in the comic books, but in a way that plays to a live-action medium's strengths.
Keyhouse is filled with other similarly magic keys, but it's not just these objects that drive the house and series' mysteries. There's also a dark voice at the bottom of the well house, located on Keyhouse's sprawling grounds. The mystery woman's name: Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira), one of the first people Bode meets in Matheson, someone who at first appears to be a friend — but appearances are often deceiving, especially as it pertains to Dodge.
While the Lockes have traveled far to escape their past, they soon come to learn that their past is far from finished with them — both as it pertains to Keyhouse and its deep mythology rooted in the late Rendell Locke, and also in the form of the young man who killed Rendell: Sam Lesser, played by Thomas Mitchell Barnet, the other actor aside from Jackson Robert Scott to make the leap from Hulu's Locke & Key to Netflix's full-fledged series. In the Hulu version, Barnet was cast as Rufus Whedon, someone who becomes one of Bode's actual friends in Matheson; for the Netflix series, Coby Bird embodies the role.
Keep checking THR.com/LiveFeed for much more on Locke & Key, including interviews with Cuse and Averill once the season premieres.