The Black Spot TV series from France (where it’s known as Zone Blanche), now on Amazon Prime, is an eerie, atmospheric thriller. It’s dark and foreboding, filled with strange characters, and even stranger goings-on in a rural town surrounded by a mysterious forest. While a series of episode-long cases come and go, there’s a bigger question looming throughout Black Spot. Why are so many people disappearing and dying here?
Villefranche is not a safe place to live. Early in Black Spot, we learn 37 (and counting) murders have occurred there during the last several years. For a small town, that’s a lot, but it’s not the only unusual thing about this place. Cell phones – for the most part – don’t work, compasses don’t either, and anytime someone ventures into the forest – usually at night – animalistic noises and distant lights menace the intruders. Even more strange, everyone takes this in stride.
A new prosecutor, Franck Siriani (Laurent Capelluto), arrives in Villefranche as Black Spot begins. Concerned about the murder rate, he’s determined to find out what’s really going on. Siriani is as quirky as the locals, allergic to almost everything, and unsteady in his bearing. We wonder if he’s up to the task.
Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim) leads the small town police force. She’s a local, carrying scars both mental and physical from a traumatic episode in her past. Though smart and intuitive as an investigator, she doesn’t have much support. Teddy Bear – yes, I know – is her right hand man on the force, and there’s a capable doctor, Leila, who does double duty as coroner.
The murders and crimes happening here are far from ordinary. Bodies are tied to trees or hung like scarecrows. Animal carcasses and bones dangle from ceilings and trees. A teenage girl disappeared six months ago, yet Laurène only stays loosely in touch with her own daughter, Cora. Three or four episodes in, Laurène looks tired and drained. Events take their toll.
It’s Cora who’s curious about the tree-like graffiti symbol appearing in various places around town. It’s one of the things indicating there is more than “just” a lot murders taking place. Another involves a local family wielding influence behind the scenes. And, of course, there’s the forest and whatever creatures and secrets it holds.
Black Spot moves at a leisurely place, but the pace and pulse quicken at a moment’s notice. The camera work and soundtrack set the mood perfectly. Much happens in the dark and at night. When daylight comes, the investigations continue.
As a TV series, Black Spot lies somewhere near the intersection of The Returned, Midnight Sun, Dark, and Tin Star. Humor and quirkiness soften the darkness. Though brief scenes echo horror films, when the camera zooms up and away, the French forest and rolling hills are lush and green.
The Black Spot TV series was created and written by Mathieu Missoffe for Ego Productions and first aired in Belgium and France in spring, 2017. There are eight episodes on Amazon Prime, all in the 50 minute range. We’re looking forward to Black Spot season 2.
Black Spot TV series trailer
Since it’s in French, there are no spoilers!