The Chalet TV series on Netflix takes a traditional mystery scenario and places it in the French Alps with a dash of horror movie ambiance and a few special tweaks. The result is five hours of streaming TV that’s highly entertaining and fairly unique. Though guessing whodunit comes easily enough halfway through this series, there’s enough depth and intrigue, as well as gaps and details to fill in, that you stay hooked all the way through.
A group of friends and their spouses and companions gather for a few days vacation in a chalet in the remote mountain village of Valmoline. When circumstances – don’t watch the trailer! – leave them cut off from the rest of the world, it’s easy to guess what’s going to happen. As in most horror flick scenarios, it’s best not to wander outside on your own or leave the rest of the group.
It’s a simple setup, but the writers add a heavy dose of complexity. Most of the main characters grew up in the village that’s home to The Chalet (Le Chalet in its native France). Scenes often alternate without notice between the present and 20 years ago. Flash-fowards happen less frequently, and focus on one character. Part of the challenge and confusion (deliberate, of course) is figuring out who is who from 20 years ago and now. Some are obvious, some are not. (We suggest paying close attention to names!)
The array of characters adds to the interest. Manu grew up in the village. His pregnant girlfriend, Adèle (right), has visions and nightmares, the first sign something is amiss. Another guest, Alice, and Manu were good friends as teens. Alice’s current boyfriend, Fabio, a chef, is an all-around nice guy. Sebastian, who was the local bully, has an aspiring model named Maud on his arm and still acts like a jerk, picking on Fabio and everyone else. Several more locals and guests populate the mix, but it’s best to make your own mental road map and character connections as the episodes progress.
Vivid colors fill The Chalet, highlighting the scenic setting of deep green forests, snow-peaked Alps, and picturesque mountain cabins. While the TV series lacks full emotional depth, it lightly touches on moral questions and ethical conundrums, striving not to be just a string of clever thrills. The Chalet comes together like a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, the challenge of the game more important than it’s final outcome.
After debuting on France in September 2017, all six episodes of The Chalet TV series arrived on Netflix April 17, 2018. Written by Camille Bordes-Resnais and Alexis Lecaye and directed by Bordes-Resnais for France Télévisions, The Chalet makes a perfect weekend TV binge.