Recently, I finished watching the new Netflix series, â€˜Dark.â€™ Prior to its availability, though, I was reading headlines like these: Dark Review: Netflixâ€™s German Answer To Stranger Things Is Appropriately Titled, And Far More Grim and Netflixâ€™s Dark: Stranger Things meets The Killing in this supernatural Nordic noir, and to be honest, it kind of pissed me off. To be fair, the articles in question did a pretty good job of distinguishing between the two shows, but why compare them at all? Frankly, they have little to do with each other. Sure, both feature a forbidding forest and missing children. But where â€˜Stranger Thingsâ€™ is a mashup of â€˜ET,â€™ â€˜Stand By Me,â€™ and â€˜Super-8,â€™ â€˜Darkâ€™ is a brooding meditation on Chernobyl, fate, and time travel.
So, what happens when you go with these kinds of attention-grabbing headlines? In my opinion, you create wrong expectations in the viewerâ€™s mind. You know about expectations, right? Like when you sit down with your kids to watch the new Pixar movie, â€˜Coco,â€™ at the local cinema and are greeted with a nearly thirty-minute short about some stupid buck-tooth snowman named Olaf. Yeah. Well, the press was bad. I think I heard there were riots in Mexico.
If by now youâ€™re thinking of giving the show a try, let me offer a piece of advice. Switch the dialogue to German and add the English subtitles. I know, I know. Most people hate subtitles. But you will be in for a treat. Hearing the actorsâ€™ real voices as they navigate through this hell-on-earth is worth it and adds wonderfully to the tension. Trust me on this. Also, pay attention to the music. Itâ€™s spot-on.
Iâ€™ve found over the years that European storytelling is different from that of America. Europeans like to take their time letting things unfold. Theyâ€™re more philosophical. They donâ€™t shout, but rather speak in low, measured tones that convey an intensity that acts as a window into a personâ€™s darkest secrets. And they like to minimalize the backstory, so you end up having to work hard to get to the bottom of a character rather than listening to some rube monologuing about what made them the way they are. Or worse, smarmy narration that attempts to put a bow on it all.
I will admit â€˜Darkâ€™ is not for everyone. But if you want to explore something different, give it a try. Why, you may even be tempted to get a taste of Nordic Noir a la â€˜The Keeper of Lost Causes.â€™ And donâ€™t get me wrong. I loved â€˜Stranger Thingsâ€™â€”well, the first season, anyway. All Iâ€™m saying is, â€˜Darkâ€™ truly stands on its own. It doesnâ€™t need help from some other successful American series.