Americans seem to be vacillating over catastrophic climate change. Europeans, not so much. Case in point: The Rain, a new Danish web series directed by Kenneth Kainz and Natasha Arthy and recently released on Netflix.
While the premise may not be that original (deadly virus wipes out the Earth), the series is carried by some good acting, dark action and the skillful presentation of humans who have lost everything to tragedy and death.
And it’s not just the virus in the rain that wreaks havoc. It’s the survivors who have to reconstruct their lives while struggling to trust each other. After all, when all you’ve got is a ragtag group of strangers (sound familiar, Walking Dead fans?), how can you start over?
Starring Alba August as Simone Andersen and Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen as her brother, Rasmus, the premise begins when their father, Dr. Frederik Andersen (Lars Simonsen), forces the family to seek refuge in an underground bunker after a deadly rain spreads a virus around the world. The bunker belongs to his corporate company, Apollon.
After he reveals to Simone that Rasmus is the key to curing the virus, he leaves them with their mother, Ellen (Iben Hjejle), and never returns. Then the mother dies, leaving the young duo to survive in the bunker on their own.
Six years later, the air vents become clogged and oxygen in the bunker is desperately low. Opening the door to escape outside, the now older siblings are confronted by a group of strangers who want to rob them. Simone convinces the leader, Martin (Mikkel Følsgaard), that she knows of other bunkers where they can find food. Joining forces together, the group treks into a desolate landscape, trusting that Simone is being truthful.
What makes this drama compelling is the development of individual stories within the story. We learn as we go that each character has a past and a present, and it’s not just the rain that’s driving them to stay together.
August as Simone is able to hold her own against unspeakable challenges. She’s also vulnerable, even when her suspicions get the best of her. Tønnesen’s Rasmus is the opposite: Less cautious, more curious and willing to take some emotional risks as he falls in love with Beatrice (Angela Bundalovic).
While the story is not terribly original, it is often frightening and capable of springing violence in unexpected ways. A secret about the history behind the virus slowly unfolds. And always the rain hovers above, like an avenging angel.
While this series is aimed at a young adult audience, it has enough heft to carry older adults as well. If you’re squeamish or object to language and nudity, best to choose something else to watch. But as you find yourself carried along by each episode, don’t be surprised if you develop a rooting interest, even for the characters who might initially seem unsavory.
The Rain is not about zombies, but the apocalyptic premise is the same. If you’re up for the dark theme and don’t mind some subtitles, check it out. Then go look out your own window: It seems that these days, climate change is making us all a little crazy.
Out of the Box is a semi-regular column by VCReporter staff and contributors about television and streaming content.