Damson - What we're watching #28
Locke & Key is a strange old premise.
Based on a series of comic books by John Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, it tells the story of the handily named Locke Family, who's patriarch was recently murdered. This triggers the need for a fresh start, and the Mother and her three children up sticks and move house from Seattle across to country to their ancestral home in Massachusetts.
Locke Family. Key House. Get it?
Once they arrive in at Locke House, which looks like a cross between the mansions from "Haunting Of Hill House" and "Casper The Friendly Ghost". Straight from the off, you know that there's something not quite right about this partially run down and definitely creepy house.
So, why is it called Key House? Well, it turns out that magical keys were forged centuries ago that allow children and teenagers to access "portals". These can be through doors or within someone's head, meaning that people can have their thoughts, feelings and memories laid bare.
The family are really looking for peace and closure on what's happened, but what they find is much, much more complicated and scary. The Key's grant the children a series of magical powers, but also put them in danger, with the mysterious echo/dodge making life difficult as she's hungry to get her hands on the keys too.
What "Locke & Key" does very well is handle the nature of memory within each of the three children. All are going through a very acute grieving process, but also handle it in very different ways. The eldest, Tyler, is a ball of anger, both internal and external. Kinsey, the middle child has closed herself off to the world around her and kindness of others, and the youngest Bode throws himself into a mission to find all of the keys and protect them like a child being protective of their favourite toy. All three narratives work well, but some better than others. Bode, who is crucial to the story working as he is the instigator of mist things, starts to grate on the viewer after a while, when his childlike exuberance annoys rather than endears after a while. The most interesting is Kinsey. She has a form of PTSD stemming from her decision to hide and keep Bode safe when her father was being murdered, rather than helping out.
One of the keys, the "Head Key" lets characters and viewers see inside their minds. The set design here is brilliant and really in keeping with how you would expect each character to be. Bode's mind is in the corm of an arcade. All colours and the sort of things that you would imagine a child of his age to be excited and entertained by. Kinsey's starts off as an American style shopping mall with seemingly never ended staircases (think M.C. Escher's famous work). Interestingly, as her memories manifest in different ways, she skids from one to another and ending in a much darker place. It poses the question of how emotion affects your memories. Everyone will have had their memories affected by grief/trauma at some point in their life, but it's rare that you would have it represented in a programme like this.
As with a lot of these kinds of shows, there are twists and turns aplenty, so you're never quite sure which way it's going to go. Don't worry, we won't be spoiling any of it for you here, but it is at the same time a satisfying season conclusion while at the same time, leaving it open for a second series, which is no doubt in the pipeline.
"Locke & Key" isn't without it's faults, but nothing is really. What it is is a fun ride that will keep you hooked from the start of episode 1 to the end of episode 10. It's not afraid to tackle tough subjects and does so very well.
"Locke & Key" is the latest in a long line Netflix original series that are seemingly designed to be binge-watched. We love this, and you should too. Just try not to let anyone spoil it for you before you finish.
March 28, 2020