When you watch the trailer for Netflix's upcoming series, Locke & Key, it feels like you're watching a fantastical mix of Stranger Things and Haunting of Hill House that promises to be a totally trippy binge watch. Anyone who's read the comics this new series is based on, though, will know that this retelling of Joe Hill's epic adventure series has made some distinct changes from the source material.
In the original comics, Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode's (Jackson Robert Scott) stories focus less on their whimsical key adventures and much more on the horror and violence the keys bring into their lives. In fact, though this new adaptation can definitively be categorized as YA, to classify the comics that way would be a bit of a stretch.
Executive producers Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill say that wasn't a deliberate choice they made when choosing when and where to diverge from the source material, but rather an inevitable part of writing a teen-centered series.
"I don't know that we really felt like we were doing that intentionally," Cuse told TV Guide. "I think Meredith and I were just trying to make the show that we, ourselves, wanted to see, and I think that when the show moved to Netflix we really leaned into the fantasy side of the show. And since the kids were the ones who experienced magic, we were really just focused on telling their stories, and I guess that moves it somewhat YA. I think that for us, we really sort of felt like there was a broad audience for this show and that in a world of a lot of niche programs that this was the type of show that ultimately you could watch with your family... I think of things like Frozen or Harry Potter which are maybe designed for a specific audience, but there's a big audience that actually likes them."
"Also, one of the metaphors with the keys is that it's about identity and growing up, so being able to locate those stories with our teen characters just sort of felt natural," Averill added.
Locke & Key is definitely on track to hit a demographic sweet spot (you can't really go wrong with YA on Netflix), and while it might not reach the same heights as Frozen or Harry Potter, it's hard to argue that Cuse and Averill's choice to soften up some of the comic's sharper edges was a bad choice.
Luckily, it doesn't sound like they'll have to contend with a bitter creator who resents the changes to his original work of art seeing as both Joe Hill and illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez were an active part in creating the Netflix series.
"Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have been partners with us and collaborators and Joe was used as a resource for us," Averill said. "He co-wrote the first episode of the season, and he was very open to the changes that we discussed that we wanted to make because he felt that it was always keeping in-line with the spirit of the comic, which we all love. So it's kind of amazing that he really embraced all of those changes and that he participated in the show and was giving notes on scripts. So he was absolutely a partner."
One of the biggest changes you can expect to see in the comics comes in the character of Nina (Darby Stanchfield), the Lockes' mother. Originally a very unsympathetic character and a pretty terrible mother, this new Nina is much easier to root for, especially when it comes to her battle with alcoholism.
"One of the bigger changes from the comic is that when you meet Nina in the comics, she is drunk for most of the comic. I mean she's an alcoholic, and she's currently drinking," Averill said. "And so when we got together at the beginning of the series, we talked about, well, why don't we make her an addict in recovery and then tell the story over the season of how she gets pushed to her breaking point... [We're] able to tell the arc of a woman who's trying to hold on so desperately and then this horrific thing happens again, and she feels like she didn't protect her kids, and that's what sends her back to the bottle."
To find out what other changes are in store, you'll have to watch the series when it drops on Netflix. And yes, it's most likely going to be one of those series you start Friday night, and finish in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Locke & Key premieres Friday, Feb. 7 on Netflix.