A long-awaited graphic novel adaptation is hitting Netflix next week. The trailer captures a lot of the magic of the book, but will it go as dark as the comic was willing to go?
This title has been something I have been waiting for since Mike and I recorded Episode IV: Non-Movie properties we would like to see adapted into movies (has it been that long ago?). Quite simply it’s one of the most mind-bending horror-adjacent comics ever written. This is the dark fantasy tale drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez and written by Joe Hill, the writer of Nos4atu, Horns, and In the tall grass, along with his famed father, Stephen King. It is the story of the Locke family: Mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield) and her three children, oldest son Tyler (Connor Jessup), Daughter Kinsey (Emelia Jones), and youngest son Bode (Jackson Robert Scott).
The family is recovering from the murder of their father, and they move into a big Victorian mansion, that has a family legacy. Inside the old Locke manor are a bunch of magical keys that were originally used to secure away demons from the extra-dimensional plane of Leng. (An old Lovecraft reference and the town that the family has moved to is Lovecraft, Massachusetts.) There is a demon residing in the bottom of the well in the back of the house, where young Bode finds Dodge (Laysla De Oliviera), a sultry demon who orchestrated the death of their father. She is a wily one though, and (in the books at least) shapeshifts in order to charm the Locke family into finding and using these magical keys to free her from her trapped existence.
These keys do some really remarkable and disturbing things, most remarkably being able to unlock a person’s memories by popping the tops of the skulls off. It is a trippy element in the books, and I will be fascinated to see this executed in the show. And this is what I am going to be most curious about. How far will Netflix push the disturbing imagery? The book is full of heinous actions by Dodge, a cruel and manipulative demon. It’s not just the goriness of the books, it’s the traumatic cruelty and easy evil that Dodge exhibits that gets under your skin. In the graphic novels, Dodge changes gender to charm and seduce each of the children. Will that happen in the show?
The early buzz from Entertainment Weekly is encouraging. All this despite the fact that the property has been in Hollywood limbo for several years now. Originally, this was a Fox property, then Hulu picked it up and then dropped it. It has landed at Netflix, and I believe that they are the right platform for this. With Marvel taking its toys from the Netflix sandbox, the studio has been aggressively pursuing the best of the smaller label publishers. They were very successful in adapting The Umbrella Academy from Dark Horse Comics, and now they have gone to IDW to secure Locke & Key. This is one of the very best comic properties to own, outside of the DC and Marvel line. If they treat Locke and Key as well as they did Umbrella Academy, we’re in for a treat.
Locke and Key will launch on Netflix on February 7, with no rating. I’m thinking it will be Stranger Things level, somewhere between a PG-13 and an R level would be appropriate. The trailer looks fairly benign, but I’m certainly hoping it goes full Joe Hill here.