While it doesn’t pack much of a punch, Netflix’s Lockwood & Co. still has enough smiles and spooks to stand on its own two feet.
If you’ve never heard of the show before, and you want the quick rundown, the official Netflix synopsis reads: “In a world plagued by ghosts, three teens band together as paranormal investigators, risking what little they have to unravel a diabolical conspiracy.”
The series is based on a popular set of books, but will the show be just as popular? Let’s get into it…
Lockwood & Co. does a lovely job at world-building
Firstly, don’t worry, we shan’t be spoiling anything in this review. Granted, the amount of different ghostly artifacts and organizations that are mentioned within the show can make it hard to gather what’s an important plot point and what isn’t, so fully spoiling the show may be harder than you’d expect.
But disregarding the occasional convoluted detail, Lockwood & Co. does a great job at building a world that is different, but not too different from our own. This is a world where ghosts – who make any human they attack join them in the afterlife – have suddenly appeared in the last 50 years. And due to teenagers being more talented at seeing and fighting these ghosts, agencies have been set up for them to work in, though the workers usually don’t make it to adulthood.
So ultimately, the way that teenagers are put at the forefront of a battle against the supernatural is different than much of YA fiction. Because these teens aren’t chosen ones, often they don’t get a choice at all, main character Lucy certainly doesn’t. Paperwork, child labor, workers’ rights, and company conspiracies are all prominent aspects of this show, which may arguably be scarier to the audience than the ghosts themselves.
The ghosts may be hit or miss for audiences. The show does a good job of setting up tension in spooky scenes, and the jump-scares never feel cheap. But the CGI can range from okay to laughably bad, and you’d wish they stuck to more simple effects, such as when they portray the ghosts through shadows, which is just as if not more effective than glowing green figures.
There are plenty of baddies for our heroes to fight in this series, both among the living and the dead, but sadly none really manage to stand out, barring the obvious twist villains. The action is fun, but it never truly feels climactic, which can be said for most aspects of this show. Almost, but not quite.
Like ghosts, these characters lack fleshing out
Now, the show’s main characters certainly aren’t bad. They’re entertaining enough, as is the dynamic they have; the moments where they claim platonic affection for one another are touching to watch. The house in which they live and work is sure to pop up on many a Pinterest board as a cozy friendship haven, that’s for sure.
But like we said, it’s almost, not quite. Each actor is clearly trying their best; Ruby Stokes especially shines both in quiet moments and when she plays at being possessed. But the dialogue generally relies too much on quipping – which it uses instead of actual jokes, sadly no big laughs can be found here – and panicked arguing, so when character motivations appear, or character development does happen, it can appear rather abrupt.
The potential romance between the two leads also feels forced. You buy their friendship, but they don’t have the chemistry for anything more. Emotional conversations often feel on the nose, especially since from looking at these characters you can already tell what backstory they’re going to have. Lucy is the only one whose past could hold any sort of intrigue, but the show sadly wastes that by laying it all out immediately.
Lockwood & Co. review score: 3/5
Given a few tweaks, Lockwood & Co. could be something great. As it is, it’s good, but nothing more. Like a ghost, it packs some scares and it clearly has some meaning, a reason that it exists, but often floats around without making much effect.
So in terms of whether or not you should tune in, like the many cliffhangers that this show loves to leave you on, we too will leave you without a definitive answer. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then go ahead and give it a watch, If not, there’s plenty of other ghosts out there to see.
Lockwood & Co. will drop on Netflix on January 27, 2023. Check out the rest of our coverage of the show here.