Netflix Originals have a reputation for having unique premises, or at the very least, adapting unique source materials. However, post-apocalypse stories are a genre that has been creatively whipped to death. New Netflix Original show The Rain tries to breathe new life and freshen it up with the a new setup for the end of the world: the rain suddenly becomes toxic to humans.
Premiering on May 4th, the first episode of the Danish show opens with our protagonist Simone – played by Alba August – going into college for an aural exam, only for her father Frederick (Lars Simonsen) to drag her out, saying they need to leave immediately. Along with their mother and her brother Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) Simone is taken to a bunker, with Frederick leaving in a bio-suit, promising to return. After their mother sacrifices herself to save Rasmus, the siblings are left to fend for themselves.
Six years have passed, and Frederick still hasn’t returned to the bunker. Driven out by a dwindling food and oxygen supply, Rasmus and Simone leave the safety of the bunker along with a group of survivors led by Martin – played by Mikkel Følsgaard – to face a devasted Scandinavia. The rest of the season follows the group of survivors as they travel to Sweden and the headquarters of APOLLON, the company that Frederick worked for, in search for answers, avoiding the rain and other hostile survivors.
When I first heard about The Rain coming to Netflix – before even watching the trailer – I assumed it would be an adaptation of the novel by Virigina Bergin of the same name as they share the same premise, but this is not the case. Released on the fourth of May and created by filmmakers Jannik Tai Mosholt, Christian Potalivo, and Esben Toft Jacobsen, the show slowly reveals the plot on a need-to-know basis, giving the audience a reason to keep on watching as more information is revealed, and all the episodes are on Netflix, so you don’t have to wait for each episode. As well as unfolding more and more of the plot, each of the episodes reveals more of the survivor’s backstories through a series of flashbacks, though it’s Martin’s one that really conveys the severity of the virus and how it mentally affects our characters.
However, outside of the admittedly unique premise, the human element of it is nothing we haven’t seen before. Besides Følsgaard’s role as Martin, an ex-sniper who acts as the group’s leader, and Alba acting as the big sister who will do anything to protect her little brother, the other characters and the relationships they share with each other lack any real substance. The remaining cast do a decent job: you have the shy boy Jean – played by Sonny Lindberg – Martin’s lover Beatrice – done by actress Angela Bundalovic – hardman and Martin’s side man Patrick – portayed by Lukas Løkken – and last but not least, Jean’s crush Lea – done by Jessica Dinnage. Though they do have their moments of acting brilliance that pop up, most of it isn’t really anything groundbreaking.
With that being said, however, the design of the series is remarkable. Shot in a variety of different locations, from abandoned urban environments to the wilderness, the locations are absolutely gorgeous. It does an amazing job of portraying huge cities as abandoned ghost towns, the scope of it rivalling 28 Days Later, a post-apocalyptic film well known for shutting down London to film its scenes. The show looks good outside its design too: the colour palette is darkened and muted, which reminds me other post-apocalyptic media, like the film The Road, adding to the depressing tone of the series. Aesthetically, it’s very well-done.
The first season has eight episodes with a running time ranging from thirty-eight to forty-five minutes each, which I recommend you watch in the show’s mother tongue, as the dubbing can be slightly off-putting at times. The final episode does hint to the potential to continue the story, though I don’t know how likely that’s going to happen after finishing the show. It can be a real mission to get through at times, and I think that’s The Rain’s greatest crime: it’s average. The only aspect that really stands out about the show is its premise.
However, a fair amount of the show feels formulaic and it has a lot in common with a similar end-of-the-world show, The Walking Dead: we get a preview of life before disaster strikes, the main characters’ shocked reaction to this new world, the main focus of the tale being to try and reacquaint with their family who may still be alive/ finding a solution to their in-world disaster, with the main protagonists being kind, good, and trying to hold on to whatever humanity, with the secondary characters being cruel for the sake of survival, telling the main characters that’s just how the new world works. With the premise and epic scale of it, it feels like it should be something more than it is. However, besides the threat of the rain, which at times is portrayed more like a stalking killer to add drama to the scene than a natural occurrence, this isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before.
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Taking everything into account, Rain is worth a watch, but you have to be in the mood for it. It does have its moments, but overall, the show has a big problem. It’s not grand. It’s not amazing. It’s just fine.
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