The novelist Joe Hill delights in dreaming up nightmarish neverworlds, from a twisted Christmasland populated by vampire children (“NOS4A2,″ now an excellent AMC series) to a field of grass where time loops inexplicably in on itself (“In the Tall Grass,” co-written with his famous father, Stephen King, now a Netflix film).
But for the better part of a decade, one of Hill’s best efforts has been stuck somewhere even scarier: development hell. That’s entertainment-industry jargon for when a movie or TV show never gets made, despite the best attempts of all involved, and it’s where “Locke & Key,” Hill’s masterful graphic novel series with illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez, had long languished.
Enter Netflix, which just made my week by revealing that “Locke & Key” will premiere on the streaming service early next year. All 10 episodes arrive Friday, Feb. 7.
Along with the streamer’s announcement comes an official synopsis: “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."
What Netflix fails to note there is that, like Hill himself, “Locke & Key” is rooted firmly in New England (even if the series was shot in Toronto). There’s still good reason to expect it’ll feel authentic. Hill created this adaptation himself, with Carlton Cuse (“Bates Motel”), Aron Eli Coleite (“Daybreak”), and Meredith Averill (“The Haunting of Hill House”) splitting up showrunner duties.
At one point in its limbo period, “Locke & Key” was set up at Fox. Later, it was at Hulu. In both cases, a pilot was filmed, but the networks later chose not to move forward. Netflix, which popularized the binge-watch model, feels like a more suitable home for a TV take on Hill’s spooky page-turners anyway.