New Netflix ghost hunting series Lockwood & Co. doesn't rely on jump scares, says director Joe Cornish

Lockwood & Co.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Ghost stories and jump scares often go hand in hand, but Joe Cornish didn't want new Netflix series Lockwood & Co. to rely too heavily on that particular device.

Based on the book series of the same name by Jonathan Stroud, the show is set in the midst of a ghost pandemic and follows a group of three teenagers (played by Ruby Stokes, Cameron Chapman, and Ali Hadji-Heshmati) who make up London's only adult-free ghost-hunting agency. Cornish, best known for helming 2011's Attack the Block, featuring John Boyega's breakout performance, is the show's lead writer and director. But how, exactly, did he help craft the series' spooky moments?

"We worked really hard on lighting, and light levels, making sure stuff was legible enough but that you’re also slightly peering into the shadows," Cornish tells SFX in the latest issue of the magazine, featuring Teen Wolf on the cover. "I think sound is hugely important, and also silence. A lot of modern media is frightened of silence and when nothing happens that’s often the most interesting moment. We tried not to do too many jump scares. We do one or two, but we try and create an atmosphere of creeping fear rather than give people heart attacks."

He adds: "In other movies or TV shows you might glimpse a ghost as a jump scare and then it’s gone. Our ghosts are really present, and our characters fight with them, so we had to come up with a design that you could really train the camera on, and involve in an action sequence, and would be able to leap around and dive and swoop and bolt into a corner."

Lockwood & Co. arrives on Netflix on January 27. For more on the series, be sure to pick up a copy of the new SFX Magazine, out Wednesday, December 28, and available to order online (opens in new tab)

Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements. 

With contributions from