Netflix’s Dark is about to be your new favourite binge-watch.
If you are looking for a new bleak, mysterious and eerie obsession, look no further than Dark, Netflix’s first German-language production.
It is the kind of show that you can easily binge-watch in a day, it’s that gripping. Every episode introduces a new element that leaves you desperate to know what happens next. And, every time you think you know what is going on, there’s a new curveball thrown at you. Here are some reasons we loved Dark.
1 – Gripping Plot
Dark is set in the small German town of Winden where two young boys go missing.
It isn’t just the families of the boys that are struggling to deal with their loss; the entire town is reeling from the shock and everyone is on edge. Not least because most of the town has yet to get over the similar disappearance of a child 33 years ago.
For all intents and purposes, it seems that history is repeating itself.
But, when an unidentified child’s body turns up in the woods, the police and the town’s residents find themselves facing even more questions than answers.
Past, present and future collide in unexpected ways and the nuclear powerplant that powers the town may just be in the centre of it.
2 – Atmospheric
As I said, Dark is bleak. The show is set in a small German town and, as it is with such settings, pretty much every knows everyone else. There’s a certain sense of claustrophobia as we visit and revisit the same locations in different eras. It gives us the sense that the characters are trapped, both physically and mentally. The cave in the forest, where so much of the action takes place, is definitely the most constricting location, but, as a whole, the town seems inescapable.
What makes the atmosphere really pop is the colour scheme – it’s mostly dark blues and greens. We see the same dank forest a lot; even the buildings are greyish or brick. The ever-looming nuclear powerplant that powers the city adds to the dark overtones in the show’s colour scheme.
The further back in time we go, however, the colours become more vibrant, down to the clothes the characters wear. Whereas in present day, the characters tend to wear sombre clothes, in the earlier settings, they wear brighter attire. Which is what makes the bright yellow raincoat worn by Jonas Kahnwald more striking and alerts viewers of the possibility of Jonas stumbling onto some answers, more than the other characters.
3 – Mysterious Threads
I must admit, I had little idea what Dark was about when I began watching it. But I love a good mystery, so it was completely up my alley.
Not knowing what to expect definitely made this a more gripping watch for me. The show lets us know early on that a boy has been missing for two weeks. He is not the only boy to go missing in the town. 33 years ago, Mads Nielsen went missing and was never found. His brother Ulrich became a detective to ensure the same never happened again. And then, Ulrich’s son Mikkel goes missing. In addition, a few months before the disappearances, the seemingly unperturbed Michael Kahnwald committed suicide. His son Jonas has struggled to process this loss but his wife Hannah seems to have moved on, conducting a secret affair with Ulrich.
The circumstances surrounding the boys’ disappearances are too similar to be coincidence, but nobody has had any leads since the first disappearance in the 80s. Are the boys dead or have they been taken by someone and are living new lives elsewhere?
And then, why did Michael kill himself and does it have anything to do with the disappearances?
Meanwhile, back in the 80s, Claudia Tiedemann learns that not everything is as kosher with the nuclear powerplant as she thought. But does she do the right thing and keep the plant’s secrets to herself, or does she act on what she has learnt?
In addition to all this, what is with that spooky cave in the forest? Is it really blocked off at one end or is there more to it than the residents realise? And who is The Stranger and what isn’t he telling the characters?
So many questions to keep us viewers at the edge of our seats! What more could we ask for?
4 – Characters
There is quite a cast of characters in the show and half-way through, you might want to draw a family tree to make the connections. The show effectively takes us through three generations of families in Winden.
The main cast of characters includes the Nielsen family; the youngest Nielson, Mikkel, is one of the children who goes missing, leaving his parents and siblings reeling from shock.
There’s the Kahnwald family, whose patriarch Michael inexplicably committed suicide months before Mikkel’s disappearance, leaving behind a mysterious note for his mother to be opened only at a specific date and time.
The Tiedemann family are directly tied to the powerplant. Regina Tiedemann’s husband Aleksandr took over the plant from her mother, Claudia.
Finally, there’s the Doppler family. Charlotte Doppler is a detective and contemporary of Ulrich Nielsen, father of Mikkel. The Dopplers aren’t the happiest of families but are getting by. However, Charlotte’s father-in-law, Helge, a senior citizen suffering from dementia, appears to be more knowledgeable about the unfortunate events in the town than anyone will give him credit for.
These families are seemingly linked by the friendship between their children. But, as the episodes pass, we see how the events in the past shaped these characters’ lives and motivations. The smallest moments have significance. These families have links that go deep and inform their reactions to each other.
As exciting as the plot is, the characters and their slowly unravelling histories keep you hooked throughout.
5 – Genre-mixing
We have reached the era where single genre shows and films are on their way out. It is all about genre mixing, in visual and print media. Genre-mixing makes Dark all the more intriguing.
Styled as a mystery, Dark quickly adopts supernatural elements. As someone who loves horror, this made the show all the more fun to watch.
But it is the science-fiction element that elevates the show above a regular mystery. The past and present are connected not just temporally, but by something much more tangible that the residents of the town are unaware of.
Whether the events surrounding the disappearances and the mysterious body that was found in the woods are supernatural in nature or scientific, lends to the suspense of the show. Without giving too much away, I can say that the show knows how to catch its audience by surprise.
Dark is a fascinating watch, from start to finish. It left me breathless with excitement and wanting more with each passing scene. Some of the mysteries of the show can be figured out but that just makes it all that more exciting to watch.
The season ended on an unexpected note. Viewers did get some answers but a whole new world has now opened up following the finale. It is going to be an anxious wait for season two.
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