Series Review: Dark


Featuring Jonas Kahnwald and the Winden caves, the symmetry of scenes in Dark remains an important theme.

Sharon Sun, Photojournalist

Had you been viewing a film in theaters, you may have had the chance to hear the audible gasps and reactions of the audience to the roller coasters that are thriller films. Well, with the pandemic, in-person showings are more discouraged and streaming movies at home has grown in popularity. Yet, people’s hunger for new, exciting media has not been sated, and Netflix attempts its own exciting German thriller original, Dark, to deliver to fans of thriller shows all across the nation. 


Dark begins in the small, mysterious German town of Winden in 2019. The town is quiet, yet suffers tragic happenings; in 2019, two boys disappear and lead the people of Winden into a desperate chase to recover them and investigate the disappearances. In delving deeper into the case, the intricate relationships, double lives, and the unknown, interweaving connection between four families — the Kahnwalds, Nielsens, Tiedemanns, and Dopplers — are revealed, and their relationships crumble. Looming in the background of the town’s intriguing history is a time conspiracy weaving together the history of the four families in the years of 1986 and 2019, as well as the mystery of Winden’s power plant.


The first season introduces the main four families of 2019: Kahnwald, Nielsen, Tiedemann, and Doppler. The protagonist of the series, Jonas Kahnwald, is introduced, suffering trauma from the recent suicide of his father, Michael Kahnwald. In the meantime, Jonas’ mother, Hannah Kahnwald, is revealed to be having an affair with Ulrich Nielsen, the town’s police chief. Ulrich returns home from Hannah’s house to his wife, Katharina Nielsen; sons, Magnus and Mikkel; and daughter, Martha. 


After the Nielsen children are sent to school, we are introduced to the other family: Bartosz Tiedemann, with his hotelier mother, Regina, and his father, Aleksander, the owner of the town’s nuclear plant. As Ulrich heads to the police station for work, we are introduced to his second-in-command, Charlotte Doppler, whose husband, Peter Doppler is Jonas’ psychologist. They have two children: Elisabeth, a young, mute girl, and her older sister, Franziska, who attends Winden’s high school with the other teenagers.


As Netflix’s first German original, Dark certainly sets a high bar for both Netflix’s succeeding German and thriller films. The show perfects the suspense in the atmosphere by slowly revealing its secrets to the audience, all while featuring a fitting soundtrack to match the pace. Dark also features a supernatural aspect of time, bringing together the physics and theories of wormholes as well as tying in themes of Greek mythology of the legend of Theseus. 


Joyce Lin (11) comments on the appeal of thriller and suspenseful films. “Thriller shows are attractive because their plots are harder to anticipate,” she notes. Joyce also places a comedic value on thriller shows: “also, if the effects in thriller/suspense shows are bad, the movies become really funny. “


In the dark days of the pandemic, streaming movies has grown more popular than ever. So why not curl up on the couch with some popcorn and boot up Netflix? For lovers of the genre and those with a taste for mystery, Dark is sure not to disappoint.