Coming off of the success of “Stranger Things,” Netflix made another attempt at an eerie mystery series with their first original ten-part German show. “Dark” is, however, for lack of a better term, much darker. None of the lightheartedness “Stranger Things” achieves with its younger cast and nostalgic 80s setting is present. There are some similarities, but instead of “The Upside Down” we have time travel and instead of a military arms cover up we have a nuclear power plant cover up. Otherwise, everything about “Dark” is bone chilling, difficult to watch and definitely not for the faint of heart.
It opens with a very ominous room, set up almost like a detective’s office, with a series of pictures, as if someone was trying to draw connections about a crime. A narrator gives an Einstein quote about time and says the words, “Everything is connected,” which is certainly an adequate precursor to the tone of the series.
“Dark” takes place in Winden, Germany in 2019, a small-town with a nuclear power plant on its outskirts and ominous woods filled with eerie caves.
“This is Winden, nothing ever happens here,” the detective states, foreshadowing the rest of the series. The first five minutes of the first episode (aptly entitled “Secrets”) shows a suicide, a torrid love affair and a missing teenager, Erik Obendorf. While the suspense of a father’s suicide note, with very specific instructions for opening, arcs over the entire show, the horror truly sets in only when Obendorf’s friends go out to the caves to find his stash of drugs.
From then on, the show is filled with dead bodies, both human and animal, torture, hooded figures, missing children, time-travel and suspicions regarding the radioactivity of the nuclear plant. The entire show is very tense. The adults in the show act cooly towards one another but the teen characters are just downright bitter. Not to mention the settings are all literally dark, with dim overhead lighting, flickering candles, dark offices, broken flashlights, woods, rain and deep caves. Without spoiling anything, part of the show does take place in 80s, but the soundtrack is anything but nostalgic or comforting. The placement of the occasional pop song is always juxtaposed with a horrifying discovery in the show, leaving viewers feeling uneasy and on the edge of their seats.
“Everything is repeating itself. Everything is just as it was 33 years ago.”
The show does an excellent job at the dark science-fiction and supernatural occurrences, but one thing it struggles with is the sheer amount of characters involved. It is borderline confusing and difficult to keep track of all their relationships, especially as every generation is connected somehow. Being a German show, the cast will be relatively new and refreshing to most American audiences. The teen group, Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann), Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari), Bartosz Tiedemann (Paul Lux), Magnus Nielsen (Moritz Jahn) and Franziska Doppler (Gina Alice Stiebitz) may not be the next “Stranger Things” kids, but they certainly deliver a stellar performance.
Don’t be daunted by the subtitles. Netflix offers the show dubbed over in English and neither option detracts from the heartpounding, compelling of the show.
Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.