A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Locke & Key is based on the same-named series of horror-themed graphic novels. There are violent moments throughout the series, both in the present and in flashbacks to a defining moment in the characters' lives when a family member was shot and killed. In other scenes, a woman chokes a man to death, there's a lengthy fistfight, and there's a death by fire with suspicious causes. Language includes "bulls--t," "a--hole," "hell," "Jesus," and name-calling like "d--kwad." There's also teen sexuality (no nudity) and underage drinking and smoking. That said, the show is exceedingly well crafted to appeal to both teens and adults, and the villain's sinister, mysterious nature makes for a riveting watch. Need another reason to like it? The Locke kids' relationships start off realistically strained but improve as they face the uncertainty of their challenges together, which helps them better cope with a tragic loss.
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What's the story?
In LOCKE & KEY, when the Locke family relocates to their ancestral home in Massachusetts following the untimely death of their husband and father, Rendall (Bill Heck), they find themselves engulfed in a supernatural mystery that goes back generations. Nina (Darby Stanchfield) hopes the move will offer a fresh start for herself and her three kids -- Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) -- but Rendall's childhood home brings the Locke family face to face with the ghosts of his past and an evil spirit that's very real in the present. As the family learns some of the secrets Rendall kept hidden, the Locke kids unearth and collect a series of magical keys with untold power that the spirit is bent on stealing for herself.
Is it any good?
This thrilling series raises more questions than it answers from the unnatural death in the very first scene, and it doesn't stop there. Watching it is like riding a rollercoaster with more uphills than downhills; you always feel like you're headed toward a resolution of some kind, but instead every turn just brings more intrigue and suspense. This series excels at revealing just enough insight at just the right times to keep your interest and tempt you to come back for more.
You needn't be a horror or sci-fi geek to appreciate Locke & Key. The storyline that follows the family's healing process after a painful loss and traumatic experience is every bit as compelling as the one about a living, breathing spirit who threatens them in the present and has uncertain ties to their family's past. That said, it's a fairly gritty watch and has a definite creepiness that tingles a bit, so young teens who are sensitive to that kind of content may want to be wary of this one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Locke & Key's use of violence (or lack thereof). Is visual violence necessary to the story to keep it interesting? How does it use suspense and the suggestion of fear to offset the need for physical violence while maintaining the show's intrigue?
As you get to know the characters better, what strengths do you see in Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode? How does each demonstrate courage in their own way? How do their memories inspire how they live now?
If you've read the graphic novels, how would you rate this adaptation? In general, do you like the trend of turning graphic novels or animated characters into live-action series or movies?
- Premiere date: February 7, 2020
- Cast: Emilia Jones, Connor Jessup, Darby Stanchfield
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- TV rating: TV-14
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: May 14, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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