Riding the popularity of Stranger Things and The OA, Netflix brings us Dark, a German missing-child thriller with supernatural overtones. It is a dark TV series, but part of the title refers to a large cave looming prominently throughout the series. The cave’s dark, ominous open mouth harbors secrets that won’t be revealed unless you enter. Though the show is filled with cliches, if you stick with Dark through the first couple of episodes, you are likely to get hooked.
A large cast of characters populates Dark. Half a dozen teenagers, even more adults, and a couple of younger children are directly affected by the disappearance of two boys, a few days apart, in the town of Winden, Germany. Most of the adults grew up in Winden and remember thirty-three years ago a boy went missing under similar circumstances.
Before long, we meet a mysterious, dark, dirty, handsome stranger, and see birds fall from the sky as all the electric lights in town flicker. A nuclear power plant just outside of town next to the cave looks like a secret fortress. It’s shown enough that it must be part of the mystery, along with strange boxes, gadgets, and a “do not open until” suicide note.
At the end of Dark episode 2, another level of complication arises. If you don’t already know, we won’t spoil the fun. It’s enough to say that flashbacks help us understand how the adults in Dark became the people they are today. Halfway through the series, there’s another reveal (or two), but if you’re paying attention and thinking, you may have already figured it (them) out.
Most of the adults in Dark preside over dysfunctional families. The teenagers are typical, interested in sex, music, video games, and their social standing, but are more honest and adventurous than their parents. It’s no surprise when the kids turn out to be better sleuths than the cops.
Dark is pure, creepy fun, not as deep as it pretends. The twists, turns, and flashbacks keep viewers off balance. Make your own road map and family trees to keep track. It’s easy to end up as perplexed as the characters.
Regular readers of this site – we assume – are OK with subtitles. We strongly recommend watching Dark in German with English subtitles. Adjust your Netflix audio and subtitle settings as needed. In the US, the default settings deliver Dark with English language overdubs. They almost ruin the series as out of sync dialogue and bad overdub “acting” take a good show into a campy B movie territory.
Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese created the Dark TV series. Despite it’s German origins, the show is a Netflix original. Its 10 episodes, each in the 50 minute range, debuted December 1, 2017. If you enjoy or don’t mind supernatural overtones, we recommend it.