REVIEW: LOCKE & KEY – SEASON 1

 

Locke & Key (2020)

Starring

Jackson Robert Scott (IT)
Connor Jessup (Falling Skies)
Emilia Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Sherri Saum (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Griffin Gluck (Why Him?)
Darby Stanchfield (Waitress)
Laysla De Oliveira (The Gifted)
Petrice Jones (IBoy)
Thomas Mitchell Barnet (Run This Town)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Asha Bromfield (Full Out)
Bill Heck (The Alienist)
Kevin Alves (Shadowhunters)
Genevieve Kang (Impulse)
Hallea Jones (Let It Snow)
Kolton Stewart (The Expanse)
Chris Britton (Riverdale)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Felix Mallard (Neighbours)
Joy Tanner (Mutant X)
Coby Bird (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid)

bunny_hat_rawgoseiger_movie_189872f8-mkv_snapshot_18-44_2013-01-03_15-08-19After nearly a decade of failed attempts to bring a live-action version of Locke & Key to life, Netflix has finally delivered the goods, but was it worth the wait? Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, the series centers on the Locke children, Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and their mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield), who move to their ancestral home of “Keyhouse” after the family’s patriarch, Rendell (Bill Heck), is murdered.sentai1498Fans of the comic book’s graphic violence and creepy visuals may be a bit disappointed that Netflix’s version leans more into the whimsical aspects of Hill’s narrative and less on the terror and bloodshed. However, if the streaming giant’s goal is to appeal to a larger audience, then I think the series succeeds with some terrific set-pieces, aesthetics, and performances from the leading cast that make Season 1’s 10-episode arc a worthy binge.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_One of the standout characters in Locke & Key is not an actual person, but the house itself. Big props to the production designers (Rory Cheyne and David Blass) for creating a location that truly feels alive. Every room is meticulously detailed with fascinating little trinkets and decor that add a layer of mystery to the story, and may even cause you to pause on particular scenes just take in all of the details. Keyhouse is home to several magical keys, each with their own unique abilities.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_While siblings Tyler and Kinsey do have their own adventures with the keys, it’s their younger brother Bode who has the most fascinating encounters with their magic in Season 1. Since this version of Locke & Key is a little more family-friendly than the comics, Bode’s youthful exuberance after discovering each key is palpable and honestly infectious. Scott portrays Bode with just the right amount of innocence and wonder without ever making him too precocious. Tyler and Kinsey’s adventures in the first half of the season (when they’re not teaming up with Bode) are less pivotal to the overall story and are usually relegated to high school dramaaaa like using the keys to get revenge on “mean girls” or trying to impress a potential love interest. These high school hijinks occasionally make the show feel more like a CW teen drama than an ambitious mystery, and Locke & Key feels far more engaging when it leans into its fantastical elements.34d785dd-541d-4fd2-a32d-a66cdaa3b1b2-locke_107_unit_01540rcOne particular standout on that front is the “Head Key,” which enables the series to get creative with its visuals, while also playing with body horror. The key is inserted into the back of someone’s neck to literally open the door to their mind, which then allows a person to relive important memories, or add bits of information they might want to remember at a later date. Everyone’s mind palace looks different depending on their life experiences; Bode’s is like a large playground/arcade, while Kinsey’s is a giant shopping mall. Even better, the Head Key gives the viewer insightful glimpses into the history of the Locke family. After their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances, the three Locke siblings and their mother move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, which they discover is full of magical keys that may be connected to their father’s death. As the Locke children explore the different keys and their unique powers, a mysterious demon awakens — and will stop at nothing to steal them. From Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House), the series is a coming-of-age mystery about love, loss, and the unshakable bonds that define family.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548ROne of the most emotionally stirring aspects of the series is its effective use of flashbacks, which allows the audience to see the kids interacting with their father, adding believable weight and grief to those relationships. These scenes are great character-building moments for the kids and are so well-realized, it’s easy to forget this is all happening because of a magical key. This confident blend of fantasy and real-world drama is Locke & Key’s greatest strength. Where the series gets into trouble is when it tries to tackle too many narratives at once.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548RThe series is simultaneously attempting to be a compelling family drama, supernatural thriller, murder mystery, and high school dramedy throughout Season 1, and by attempting to serve several masters, it never completely feels like a cohesive whole. While the family storyline and the fantasy elements involving the keys work well, other aspects of the plot aren’t quite as memorable. One example of this is Season 1’s villain, Laysla De Oliveira’s Dodge, a mysterious figure who torments the Locke family in the hopes of taking possession of their keys. The Canadian-born actress has an incredible on-screen presence that can be alternately charming or menacing, and Oliveira can flip that switch in an instant, giving the character a welcome sense of unpredictability. Her performance isn’t the problem, but the character’s progression suffers from the way the story has been changed from the graphic novel to appeal to a broader audience.f5e96db0-47b5-11ea-b359-b54a8360c96a_800_420As the central villain, you’d expect Dodge to be a truly terrifying figure, but even when she kills someone in a way that should be shocking in any other situation, the show often leans into the absurd humor of her actions rather than ramping up the tension, undercutting some of the show’s biggest scares. As much trouble as the Locke kids get into, it’s difficult to imagine something horrible happening to them, even with an antagonist like Dodge lurking in the shadows.
Screenshot-2020-02-04-at-18.01.58Netflix’s Locke & Key hits the mark when it comes to its slick visuals and a focus on the powerful bonds within the Locke family, anchored by an endearing performance from Jackson Robert Scott as Bode. However, the series struggles to instill any real terror from its main villain due to its focus on whimsy over horror. Having read the original graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, it’s difficult not to ignore the differences in tone and subject matter when it comes to Netflix’s more family-friendly version. If the streamer is going broad with its adaption in order to make the series more accessible for viewers who have no history with the franchise, then on those terms, it succeeds. Bottom line, Locke & Key: Season 1 is an enjoyable binge that’s easily digestible for fans and newcomers alike, but those who were hoping for a wholly faithful adaptation may feel frustrated by some key changes.

REVIEW: IT (2017)

CAST

Bill Skarsgård (Atomic Blonde)
Jaeden Lieberher (The Book of Henry)
Wyatt Oleff (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Jeremy Ray Taylor (Geostorm)
Sophia Lillis (37)
Jaeden Martell (Knives Out)
Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things)
Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!)
Chosen Jacobs (Hooky)
Nicholas Hamilton (The Dark Tower)
Stephen Bogaert (American Psycho)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Megan Charpentier (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Jackson Robert Scott (Locke & Key)

In October 1988, stuttering teenager Bill Denbrough gives his seven-year-old brother, Georgie, a paper sailboat. Georgie sails the boat along the rainy streets of small town Derry, and is disappointed when it falls down a storm drain. As he attempts to retrieve it Georgie sees a clown in the sewer, who introduces himself as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown”. The clown entices Georgie to come closer, then severs his arm and drags him into the sewer.The following summer, Bill and his friends (loudmouth Richie Tozier, hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak, and timid Stan Uris) run afoul of bully Henry Bowers and his gang. Bill, still haunted by Georgie’s disappearance and the resulting neglect from his grief-stricken parents, discovers that his brother’s body may have washed up in a marshy wasteland called the Barrens. He recruits his friends to check it out, believing his brother may still be alive.“New kid” Ben Hanscom learns that the town has been plagued by unexplained tragedies and child disappearances for centuries. He is targeted by Bowers’ gang for being fat, after which he flees into the Barrens and meets Bill’s group. They find the sneaker of a missing girl, while a member of the pursuing Bowers Gang, Patrick Hockstetter, is killed by Pennywise while searching the sewers for Ben.Beverly Marsh, a girl ostracized over rumors of promiscuity, also joins the group; both Bill and Ben develop feelings for her. Later, the group befriends homeschool student Mike Hanlon after defending him from Bowers. All the while each member of the group has encountered terrifying phenomena in various forms; these include a menacing clown, a headless boy, a fountain of blood, a diseased and rotting man, a creepy painting come to life, Mike’s parents burning alive, and a phantom Georgie.Now calling themselves “The Losers Club”, they realize they are all being terrorized by the same entity. They determine that Pennywise (or “It”) assumes the appearance of what they fear, awakens every 27 years to feed on the children of Derry before returning to hibernation, and moves about by using sewer lines—which all lead to a well currently under the creepy, abandoned house at 29 Neibolt Street. After an attack by Pennywise, the group ventures to the house to confront him, only to be separated and terrorized. Eddie breaks his arm, while Pennywise gloats to Bill about Georgie. As they regroup, Beverly impales Pennywise through the head, forcing the clown to retreat. However, after the encounter the group begins to splinter, with only Bill and Beverly resolute in fighting It.Weeks later, after Beverly confronts and incapacitates her sexually abusive father, she is abducted by Pennywise. The Losers Club reassembles and travels back to the Neibolt house to rescue her. Henry Bowers, who has killed his father after being compelled into madness by It, attacks the group. Mike fights back and pushes Bowers down the well to his apparent death. The Losers descend into the sewers and find It’s underground lair, which contains a mountain of decayed circus props and children’s belongings, around which the bodies of missing children float in mid-air. Beverly, now catatonic after being exposed to It’s true form, is restored to consciousness as Ben kisses her. Bill encounters Georgie, but recognizes that he’s Pennywise in disguise. Pennywise attacks the group and takes Bill hostage, offering to spare the others if they let It keep Bill. The Losers reject this and reaffirm their friendship, overcoming their various fears. After a brutal battle they defeat Pennywise and he retreats, with Bill declaring that It will starve during its hibernation. Their victory is bittersweet, as Bill finally accepts his brother’s death and is comforted by his friends.As summer ends, Beverly informs the group of a vision she had while catatonic, where she saw them fighting the creature as adults. The Losers swear a blood oath that they will return to Derry as adults if It returns and destroy the creature once and for all. Stanley, Eddie, Richie, Mike, and Ben make their goodbyes as the group disperses. Beverly tells Bill she is leaving the next day to live with her aunt in Portland. Before she leaves, Bill reveals his feelings and they kiss.The acting. Great performances all round. The kids had great chemistry, and you really believe that they were all great friends. It reminded me of Stand By Me and The Goonies. Out of the child actors, Richie (played by Finn Wolfhard) was my favourite and his jokes cracked the whole cinema up. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is scary and really creeped me out, but for me there was just something missing about his character and I think he wasn’t given enough dialogue.but for an adaption from a book, they managed to condense the original material very well.Overall, it  was a great Horror/ Thriller film that kept me on the edge of my seat, with strong performances.