First things first. I've not read the Locke and Key graphic novel. It was on my 'To Be Read' list for a while but every time it got close to the top, something I just HAD to read would come out, and knock it down a step or two.
So, when I saw Netflix were adapting it, I figured this would be a good time to get on it and see what all the fuss was about.
For those that still don't know, Locke and Key is based on the graphic novel of the same name, written by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.
And for those of you that REALLY don't know, Joe Hill is pretending he's not the son of Stephen King, and fooling precisely no one. As not only is their writing style quite similar, but he is the exact image of his father, minus 20 years and a history of substance abuse.
That out of the way, I sat down to watch Episode 1. Realising as I hit 'play', that I was only vaguely aware of what the show was actually about. And I must say, the show starts out incredibly well. The opening sequence is very well made, it's also oddly offputting, for reasons I don't quite understand. Which I guess makes it perfect for the show. Sadly, it's all a little downhill, from there.
We're quickly introduced to the Locke family:
Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke; the children are the walking stereotypes, taken right out of literally every horror movie ever. Tyler broods, Kinsey snarks and Bode is overly chipper, far beyond the point of being endearing and right into annoying.
Their mother, Nina, is better, but not by much. How much of this is due to the fact that she has less screen time remains to be seen? I wonder.
The plot is fairly standard. After the tragic murder of their father, the Locke Family must leave everything behind and head to rural Massachusetts, to live in their deceased father's family home. The enigmatically titled "Key House" (get it. They're the Lockes, and they live in Key House. Locke & Key! Don't you think that is GENIUS! Yeah. Me neither).
And to be honest, that poor piece of wordplay kind of sums up everything wrong with the first episode.
It's not a bad show. Not really, despite their characters being a little bland, Tyler (played by Connor Jessup), Kinsey (played by Emilia Jones) and Nina (played by Darby Stanchfield) put some real emotion into their performances, and each have at least one scene where they impressed me. Bode (played by Jackson Robert Scott) was irritating and flat throughout, though. But I guess that just continues the grand tradition of 90% of child actors being terrible.
No, the problem with the series is simple. It clearly doesn't have any faith in its readers/viewers. There were a number of scenes, where an action was taken and I thought to myself "Oh, take note of that. I can guarantee that'll be important later." Only to have events play out exactly as I'd predicted... but often in the very same scene. There's no build up, no time for the viewer to almost forget the event, only to have the fallout sneak up and scare them when they least expect it. It was cause and effect, all wrapped up in the space of five minutes, which left the whole thing lacking impact, as the repercussions felt too immediate.
Thankfully, the episode is saved by a strong ending. The last 15 or so minutes start to bring in the overtly supernatural elements of the show, and the episode concludes with a rather intriguing closing scene.
Now, don't go away thinking that I hated the episode, because I didn't. There were a few things they did very well.
As I mentioned before, the intro sequence was excellent, and the opening scene was suitably WTF.
The music was very well done. An OST can make or break a show, and this definitely worked in the show's favour. The choice of music was as varied as it was appropriate for each scene.
The effects were excellent. Netflix clearly walked the extra mile putting this show together. The sets, props, and effects are all top notch. There is a scene towards the end of the episode, that involves some creative use of a mirror, which looked outstanding.
The supporting cast were pretty solid. It's always good to see one of the Ashmore Brothers (I can't be the only one that didn't know they weren't one person, right?) and he's great as Uncle Dunc, who obviously totally doesn't have any secrets at all. Nope. Not even a single one.
And the mysterious 'Echo' (played by Laysla De Oliveira) is as creepy as she is intriguing.
Last, but by FAR most important: while the events of the episode felt a little rushed, the basic concepts they laid down, the Magic Keys, and the mystery surrounding the house, have a lot of potential. So, overall, not a fantastic start to the series, but not a terrible one either. I liked more than I disliked about the episode, but it was a close call at times. And while I'm not climbing the walls, waiting to watch the next episode, I'm definitely going to watch. Which I guess is all the first episode really needs to do, eh?