‘Dark’ – A Mind-bending Time Travel Thriller

Many novels, television shows and films have tried to rationalise and / or reinvent time travel. This has got to the point that it is frankly ridiculous and outright boring when a character tries to explain how their version of it works. Dark plays perfectly on your expectations for things to be explained in detail or for the mechanics of time travel to be painstakingly laid out for anyone still struggling to keep up. If you are one of those people, Dark is not for you. This show does not wait around explaining everything; most of the big events throughout the show don’t make any sense until you’ve watched more of it. This is a brilliant technique – and the main reason why I binged this show like crazy.

The story follows Jonas, a schoolboy in a suburban German small-town, on his quest to find out why his father took his own life. Just as a heads-up, I won’t be giving away any spoilers here – Jonas’s father takes his own life right at the start of the first episode. Meanwhile, a boy from his school has gone missing without a trace. This was the premise that brought me into the show in the first place. Little did I know that I would be in for one hell of a ride.

Much like another fantastic show I’ve reviewed recently, The Good Place, Dark is what I like to call a “closed” story. There are three seasons, all of which create a complete story. Of course, there is a cheeky little open question at the end, but the story itself begins at the start of Season 1 and ends at the end of Season 3.

A dark figure stands at the mouth of the cave / Copyright Netflix

I really don’t want to say much about this show because the less you know, the better it will be. However, Dark doesn’t rely on surprises to be a good show. It is absolutely packed with gold-standard television-making right from start to finish. The first thing that caught my eye is just how beautiful this show is. It features absolutely gorgeous sets and locations, fantastic cinematography (like, seriously, this show has some of the best camera work I have ever seen) and flawless CGI. I have no idea how this all came together so well and stayed so consistent for three seasons.

Additionally, I was blown away by the performances. The actors all provide depth to their characters. You can read them all from a single look – which the show heavily utilises to its advantage. A single line, noise or eye movement from some of the characters creates unease. I was captivated by their performances and simply could not stop watching. I should point out that I began watching with English dubs but found it incredibly jarring as the performances did not match in the slightest. I switched to the original performances with English subtitles and my God, what a difference! I really hope these cast members get more Netflix gigs because I want to see more of them.

The protagonist, Jonas, as portrayed by Louis Hofmann / Copyright Netflix

The final big positive I have with this show is the sound. The sound design is just fantastic. I honestly don’t have better words to describe how incredible this show is just from an audio standpoint. The music composed for this show is another work of art in itself. The themes created by the soundtrack are beautifully eerie. Whenever I hear a piece from the show now, I can feel myself standing in a cold, dark forest with ghostly whispers tickling my spine. It’s exquisite.

If this review hasn’t convinced you to give this show a try yet, then I don’t know what will. The only weakness in this show’s otherwise impenetrable armour of brilliance is that if, like me, you need a little while to absorb and take in information, you may need a diagram to help you follow the scrambled timelines in the story. Thankfully, the show already thought of this and provides you with a few along the way.

Go and get your mind blown – and come back to me when you’ve questioned your whole reality.

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