Netflix’s latest supernatural horror Locke & Key is a mind-bending thrill. Based on the cult-favourite comic books by Joe Hill, it follows the Locke family – made up of mum Nina (Darby Stanchfield) and children Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones) and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) as they move back to their ancestral home in Massachusetts, in the northeast of America, following the traumatic death of their father.
Things take a turn for the weird when they arrive, though, as the children discover their new home is filled with magical keys that give them a range of powers. As the kids uncover more of the powerful objects, a mysterious demon awakens, one that will stop at nothing to steal the enchanted items and lock up those it dispossesses.
We sat down with Locke & Key showrunners Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill, as well as actor Connor Jessup (who plays the eldest Locke child Tyler), and got them to spill the beans on the new series.
The visual effects are mind-blowing
“There are some incredible things in the comic, particularly the way some of the keys manifest themselves,” Cuse says. “There’s this shadow key, that bring shadows to life. And it immediately struck me that it would be really incredible visually on screen, and also a really difficult challenge to pull off with VFX [visual effects], particularly on a television schedule and budget. But, you know, the fact that it was hard and scary sort of made it seem all the more exciting to try to do it!”
Stranger Things fans will love Locke & Key
“I love that this is a show that’ll be fun to watch for a lot of different types of people. And underneath that fun, it smuggles in a really beautiful story about what it means to grow up and what it means to pass from innocence into adulthood, and what it means to deal with trauma,” says Jessup. “I think the show is a family drama with a sick and beautiful coat of magic and adventure and mystery. It exists somewhere in the world of a Stranger Things meets The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Fans of the comic book won’t know everything
“We hit the major plot points of the graphic novel series, but we arrive at them in different ways,” says Averill. Instead, they focussed on creating interesting character arcs that follow the original plot roughly, but add new elements in as well.
It was a challenge for the actors…
To make it look like you’re being attacked by supernatural beings, you’re gonna need a lot of CGI and a healthy dose of imagination. “Part of the fun of working on something like this is you do these scenes where they say, ‘Okay, so at this moment, you have to choke yourself. But we promise that eventually it will be a shadow monster grabbing you around your neck and pushing you up against the wall!’” jokes Jessup.
…but it was also a lot of fun
Behind the scenes, the actors playing the Locke family got on like a house on fire, but that wasn’t always the case in the story. “So much of the season is spent with Tyler [Locke] and Kinsey [his sister] not getting along,” Jessup explains. “And it was so much fun for me and Emilia [Jones] who loved each other and who were inseparable the whole time to get to yell at each other!”
The comic book’s original author Joe Hill was very involved
This wasn’t just a case of adapting somebody else’s work for screen, as the comic’s original author Joe Hill was a big part of writing the series. “Joe was incredibly open to changing, adjusting and inventing new things,” Cuse explains. “He’s like: ‘Doing the literal adaptation of my comic would be boring!’ And he really embraced the opportunity to learn how to write a pilot and how to adapt his work!”
They’re already working on season two
You know something’s good when you don’t want it to end – which is how the cast and crew felt about Locke & Key season one. And although Netflix hasn’t green-lit any more episodes yet, that hasn’t stopped the cast and crew from planning their return.
“Although the show has not officially been picked up for a second season, we’re working on scripts for the second season and are really excited,” reveals Cuse. “There was so much that is in the comics, and then also that just sort of came up as we were adapting the seasons. The first season opened up a lot of other avenues. So yeah, there’s more life in the show for sure.”
Jessup agrees: “I would be the first one back and there’s so much story left to tell. We really have only started to explore these characters and these ideas, so I really do hope we get to keep going!”