Dark turned out to be way-way more than I expected. What started as just a timepass ended as a manic binge-fest.
Another descendant of the supernatural genre, Dark proved itself clever and unexpected. Directed by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, Dark is the first German-language Netflix original series – one with a spiraling storyline that entails overlapping relationships between four families and the disappearance of children in a small German town called Winden.
The show starts with a narrator narrating that “We trust time is linear”. The date is June 21st, 2019 when a man named Michael Kahnwald leaves an envelope and hangs himself in his shed. The envelope bears the inscription, “Do not open before 4 November, 10:13 p.m.”.
We’re then introduced to Jonas, a teenager that spent the last couple of months in a mental hospital following his father’s suicide. Jonas’s friend, Erik, has been missing for a while leaving absolutely no trace apart from a bag of weed hidden near Winden’s cave. Not much after, the body of a young boy is found in the woods, eyes burnt and eardrums burst. A third boy and the son of the chief of police also vanish into thin air in a late-night teenage expedition to the cave, which makes everyone even more frantic than before. At the same time, the recurrence of flickering electricity suggests an unusual activity somehow related to Winden’s nuclear power plant. 1986’s Chernobyl disaster is mentioned several times, a year which plays a significant role in the overall story. Is this the gruesome doing of a nutjob or are we talking about some kind of an out of range force? I’m trying to keep this spoiler free as possible.
Dark didn’t fail to incorporate all the right elements of suspense, drama, and intrigue that keep us viewers always guessing – violent murders, past demons, sneaky criminals, and an awesome opening song. Just finished season one and let me tell you, no more nails left to bite. Watching Dark feels a lot like you’re in a confined place. The shadowy claustrophobic cave, the rain-drenched forest and buildings, and desolate residents make Dark live up to its name, not to mention the toggle back and forth to the past. Because of its constant leap between past and present, we’re seeing each character played by different people at different ages, each bearing the outcome of their past actions, changing their lives and the lives of others forever. But can one really change the past when given a chance? The real fun is the constant guesswork of who did what, when and where and who’s who and how they’re all connected because when you get it right there’s a strong sense of gratification like you wouldn’t believe.
Dark is acclaimed as the German mature version of Stranger Things as they both cross paths with certain elements, such as the 1980’s, the late-night ventures of teenagers, the nuclear plant/science, and the supernatural small-town disappearances. Dark, however, incubates a less fictional and more deep-seated tone, which definitely makes it stand out on its own. It’s chilled, slow-paced and less sci-fi extravagant. Where Stranger Things is pure entertainment, Dark is a clever thought-provoker. What were you doing at the
edge age of 17?
What’s wrong with the sheep?
Dark’s soundtrack is one of the better ones out there, starting with its haunting opening score Goodbye performed by Apparat feat. Soap& Skin. Due to its partially nostalgic nature, the series includes a few 80’s classics along with contemporary Indie artists, including “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive, “Nightfall” by Mimi Page, “Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” by Nena, “Shout” by Tears for Fears, “Keep the Streets Empty” by Fever Ray and “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls. The show’s well-deserving of a watch for its beautiful score alone, composed by Ben Frost.
To be continued on season two, airing (hopefully as planned) on December 20th.