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Is Dark Netflix’s German Stranger Things?

PUBLISHED: 00:45 26 November 2017

Dark - is it a grown-up Stranger Things?

Dark - is it a grown-up Stranger Things?


10 reasons to watch Dark, the new Netflix series for fans of Stranger Things 2 who are in withdrawal

A small town harbouring a dark secret…mysterious goings-on at a neighbouring power facility…a group of kids on bikes…a 1980s setting – does it sound familiar?

If at first glance the plot of German-language original series Dark sounds suspiciously similar to that of Stranger Things, fear not – it was written before Stranger Things was aired and it’s set to be one of Netflix’s biggest autumn releases, a series to watch in satisfyingly large chunks on dark winter nights.

Available from December 1, the series is from director Baran bo Odar and writer Jantie Friese who are overjoyed if people think that Dark might share some DNA with the hugely successful Stranger Things: “It’s really exciting, because if all those people who watched Stranger Things will at least think about watching Sark, I think that’s a great opportunity for us. So keep comparing it,” said Friese.

The story is about four families from small German town Winden who find themselves caught in a time and mind-bending mystery that spans three generations, each 33 years apart. When two children go missing, the families’ secrets and lies are exposed and we learn that the past and the future aren’t just connected, they’re influencing each other – and there’s a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town over and over again.

In 10 parts, the strapline to the show is: “The question is not where, who or how…but when?” Keep up there at the back.

* Dark lands on Netflix on Friday December 1, when all episodes will be available to watch.

10 reasons to watch Dark on Netflix:

1) If you love the 1980s but the nostalgia element of Stranger Things annoyed you: Dark has a strange, time-warped structure which sees some of the action taking place in 1986, but you won’t be bombarded with Chopper bikes, arcade machines, mullets and other pop culture references.

2) It’s the antidote to Christmas: Sometimes all that joy and goodwill to all mankind gets a bit much, doesn’t it? If you fancy escaping from the unbridled jollity of the festive season, Dark is your series. It starts with a suicide and somehow manages to get darker with every scene – there are dead animals strewn over a field, a cave that connects today to yesterday and flocks of birds that die in mid air. In the Bleak Midwinter, indeed.

3) It’s got subtitles: It means you have to pay attention, all the time. Yes, I mean you.

4) It’s for grown-ups: You won’t be spoon-fed anything in Dark, you’ve got to assemble the puzzle piece by piece, episode by episode. The further along in the series you get, the bigger the realisation is that the fates of the families involved are connected and those connections go beyond space and time.

5) It’ll make you think twice about going into the woods alone: Because we all know that’s where the wolf lies in waiting. Along with the horrific time-travelling monster that swallows up children once every 33 years.

6) The viewer is already in on a secret: Everyone in Dark is searching for missing child Erik. They have no idea where he is, but we do – he’s in a brightly lit room that looks like a children’s bedroom, there’s a TV blaring away in the background and, oh hang on, is that an electric chair he’s sitting on? And if that sounds, ahem, dark, just wait until you see what the unseen figure who keeps coming into the room has planned for him. Yikes.

7) Did you like Back to the Future? Well it’s nothing like it. Other than that one of the two missing children ends up wandering through a time portal to 1986 and meeting younger versions of his Mum and Dad and other people he knows. There’s no Doc Brown, no modified DeLorean car, no self-tying shows, no rejuvenation clinics, no hover belts and no moving rubbish bins. I don’t want to get your hopes up.

8) The soundtrack: Ben Frost is behind the music which accompanies Dark and which adds a real sense of imminent dread and horror to proceedings. Ben has previously written the music for Sleeping Beauty, Icelandic drama The Deep and British TV series Fortitude. He also wrote a musical version of Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, one of the darkest books I’ve ever read, so he’s got form.

9) It’s a lovely thing to look at (if you like that kind of thing): It’s atmospheric, the woods near Berlin where it was shot are stunning, it’s a slowburner of a show which keeps you glued to the screen throughout. Imagine a rotting forest in late autumn – beautiful in its own dark way.

10) It’s about occult kidnapping and was inspired by Odar and Friese’s childhoods growing up in German towns during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Look, it’s Christmas - it’s this or the Mrs Brown’s Boys Festive Special, OK? I’d take radioactive occult kidnappers over Mrs Brown anyday - in fact, what about an episode in which Mrs Brown is kidnapped by a time-travelling monster in the woods?

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