TV shows

‘The Rain’ review: The Netflix thriller is a bit of a washout

The Danish show combines science fiction with horror elements.

The new Netflix drama, The Rain, is a Danish thriller with a premise that is increasingly familiar in its post-apocalyptic stirrings to viewers of the streaming site: the precipitation in a small town kills anyone it touches, and the solution to the problem is mixed up in scientific overreach and corporate greed.

Simone (Alba August) is a carefree teenager in Vordingborg until she is evacuated by her father from school one day because, in his words, “the rain is coming”. Simone’s father Frederik (Lars Simonsen) works for a company called Apollon that has built bunkers for just such an eventuality. He puts Simone, her brother Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen) and their mother in one before leaving.

When a stranger tries to enter the bunker, the mother tackles him in the heavy rain outside resulting in their shocking, painful deaths within seconds. With no mother and father, the kids are left to fend for themselves inside the (albeit well-equipped) bunker, where six years pass before Simone gathers the courage to venture outside.

From here, The Rain turns into a trek across Scandinavia in the face of threats and unlikely supporters as the kids try to locate their father whose work at Apollon is increasingly alluded to be sinister. They are assisted by a ragtag bunch of survivors who, scrounging for food, find that Simone’s knowledge of the location of other Apollon bunkers is an invaluable resource.

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The Rain belongs to the same genre as other, more successful, Netflix shows like Stranger Things and Dark, which combine science fiction with horror elements. Here, however, the narrative lacks internal cohesion and some of the plot twists, such as Frederik’s motivations for his actions, strain credulity. Some characters, like the evil boss of Apollon, are not fleshed out enough to possess the requisite gravitas.

August’s is perhaps the only role that stands out for its integrity, both personally and as the plot’s driving force. Tasked with protecting her brother who harbours a secret that will be essential to finding a “cure” to the rain, she is excellent at walking the fine line between maternal tenderness and grievous insecurity at the magnitude of the charge she has been assigned.

The best parts of The Rain are the middle episodes when Simone and Rasmus develop their outlook and personalities – love and friendships – beyond the omnipresent threat of death. These act as a counterpoint to the rushed beginning and end. That Netflix is producing more non-English content is great, but perhaps it needs to broaden the scope of its programming to focus on the wonderfully mundane rather than the catastrophic.

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