Lockwood & Co review: Netflix's ghost hunting romp is a haunting good time
The fiendishly-talented young cast bring it together.
Based on the hit books by Jonathan Stroud and adapted by Joe Cornish, Lockwood & Co is set in London decades after the emergence of large-scale hauntings known as “the problem”.
The series follows a start-up agency created by the confident young Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman). Assisted by genius pal George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati), he enlists the help of the psychically-talented Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes), a youngster who can hear ghosts and has endured enough trauma to last anyone a lifetime.
But when danger knocks on the door of Lockwood & Co, the trio have no choice but to risk their life for an investigation that could take all of them to the grave.
At a first glance, Lockwood & Co could easily be dismissed and boxed in with Netflix’s other ‘teen’ fantasy series. But creator Cornish’s penchant for a few more horror elements than expected along with a fiendishly talented young cast make for a gripping watch.
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It comes as a relief that Stokes left her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as Francesca in Bridgerton for a character that she says “spoke to her”. She shines as Lucy, the young listener forced to grow up far too quickly, and her chemistry with Chapman and Hadji-Heshmati glues everything together.
At points, the series risks being a bit cringey, with enough quippy dialogue to keep a Marvel movie going. But Chapman just about pulls it off, showing enough vulnerability to balance out Lockwood’s overconfidence and recklessness. Meanwhile, Hadji-Heshmati’s deadpan approach provides some much-needed comic relief.
Unfortunately, it’s easy enough to see where the twists and turns are going to take us - and what could have been a huge plot twist to set up the final episode can be seen a mile away.
But it’s Cornish’s ability to bring the most terrifying parts of Stroud’s novels to life (or to death) that sets Lockwood & Co apart from Netflix’s other fantasy offerings; the concept of being ‘ghost-locked’ and the impact of the horrifying condition being introduced very quickly and in a big way in episode 1 is a prime example.
While it was important to him to stay faithful to the books, Cornish also diverted in the most important ways, consulting with author Stroud on the changes to the character of George Cubbins, who was changed to George Karim in the series when Hadji-Heshmati was cast.
We also get to see far more of Lucy's traumatic backstory, something that's only briefly covered in the books, giving us a glimpse into what exactly set her up for life in London alone - a wise choice from Cornish.
Without spoiling too much, clearly the series has been set up for a second season, leaving one big question unanswered.
It hasn’t been renewed just yet and Netflix’s track record with fantasy hasn’t been ideal over the past couple of years.
But fingers crossed the fanbase already in love with the books will help to convince the streamer to give it a go - it certainly deserves to show us what more it can do.