Locke & Key Review: Netflix Unlocks a Thrilling Mystery That is Worth the Wait

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It's been a long road to the screen for Locke & Key, but if one thing is for certain after watching all ten episodes screened for critics, it's that Netflix is the perfect destination for the series. 

It is a show best served binged and thanks to the way Netflix unspools its scripted originals, viewers will be enthralled by the mysteries from start to finish. 

One of the things Locke & Key does well is play with expectations. In most cases, whenever I thought I had it all figured out, I was thrown for a loop, and that's exactly what I would expect from a TV series. 

Finding the Keys - Locke & Key

You would think that focusing on a mysterious mansion and keys that yield otherworldly powers would put the series up there with the like of The Haunting of Hill House, but the producers opted for a lighter approach. 

There are minimal jump-scares, but it's clear from the get-go that the show is constructed to appeal to teenagers and young adults, as opposed to adults.

That's not entirely a bad thing because the complicated relationships formed throughout the ten episodes leave room for the series to continue for several seasons. 

Darby Stanchfield (Scandal) makes her big TV return in style with a role that seems made for her.

Nina Locke - Locke & Key

A mother who is trying to make sense of her husband's death, while simultaneously trying to understand what is going on with the mansion she uproots her family to inhabit, Nina is a multi-layered character who is integral to the plot. 

Nina is struggling because her children are opposed to the idea of moving to a new town in the aftermath of a horrible event, but she feels like she is making the right call to help her family through the grieving process. 

But once they arrive at the mansion, the mysteries intensify with one of the convincing hooks coming in the form of Nina's brother-in-law, Duncan (Aaron Ashmore). He detests the mansion and wants the family to take it off his hands. 

However, he is at the center of one of the most prominent mysteries.

Searching for Clues - Locke & Key

He can't remember many aspects of his childhood and struggles to make sense of what is being asked about it whenever anyone wants answers. 

That's problematic for Nina's children Tyler (Conner Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), who are desperate to feel a connection to their father and who feel like their uncle could tell them stories of his childhood. 

Bode is the youngest of the three, and he is wise beyond his years. While most kids would be scared at the discovery of magical keys, Bode does what he can with it to try and aid his family through some horrible scenarios. 

But that doesn't mean he doesn't make some mistakes. He's a child who feels like he has unlocked the keys to the kingdom thanks to keys that keep popping up around the house. 

Hiding from the Forces of Evil - Locke & Key

Things are considerably more difficult for Tyler and Nina, two teenagers who did not want to leave their lives behind. They are both working through trauma from a past event that they cannot escape.

Kinsey's plan is to work her way through the school year alone instead of trying to rebuild friendships, but she crosses paths with Scot, a boy who immediately takes her under his wing and introduces her to his friends. 

This is where the teen drama comes out to play, but through her relationship with Scot, we can delve deeper into what is haunting the young woman. There are so many mysteries on this series that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of what is playing out. 

As for Tyler, he is a self-loathing teenager who is much like his sister in that he just wants to get the high school experience completed. He's hiding things from his family, much like many teenagers do. 

Unlocking the Mysteries - Locke & Key

Tyler is one of the better characters because there is so much about him we come to learn throughout the ten-episode season. 

Sheri Saum (The Fosters, Roswell, New Mexico) is also part of the expansive cast as Ellie, a woman with many secrets. She makes quick friends with Nina upon her arrival in town and the two bond over Nina's deceased husband, but we get the sense from the onset that Ellie is not who she's leading Nina to believe she is. 

The central villain is the weak spot in an otherwise robust series. Despite magic and other things coming into play, the series plays it too safe when it comes to the person who should be doing some crazy things. 

Entering a Building - Locke & Key

The backstory about why the villain is doing what they are doing is intriguing, but the show's sole predictable element is revealed where this character is concerned, and people will spot it a mile off. 

There is a lot to like about Locke & Key. From the mysteries to the excellent script to the stunning cinematography. 

There is something in this show for everyone. Just give it time at the beginning to hook you, and it will be a wild ride. 

Will you be watching the series?

Have a look at the trailer below. 

Locke and Key debuts Friday, February 7 on Netflix. 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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