The Rain review: Everyone is going to be talking about Netflix’s new show
Cast - Alba August, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Mikkel Følsgaard
Rating - 4/5
To have a great idea for a movie or a TV show is one thing - for instance, it’s a relatively safe assumption that anyone who has ever had a Reservoir Dogs poster on their wall has also written a script at some point - but it takes a whole other dimension of skill to turn that idea into a worthwhile story. Every other week, it seems, there is a new movie or programme being sold on the strength of an imaginative premise, but it’s discouraging how so few of them can actually translate these ideas into a solid story.
For example, Cowboys vs Aliens is perhaps the purest distillation of a high-concept idea, and if you’ve ever had the urge to waste two hours of your life watching Daniel Craig stare meditatively into the middle distance, you needn’t look any further. Like Cowboys vs Aliens, a film that finds new ways of disappointing the viewer with every new scene, there are scores of films and TV shows that have managed to beckon us over with a thrilling logline, only to leave us desperate for a new episode of Black Mirror when they invariably petered out.
It’s a bit of a coincidence then that I watched the first three episodes of the new Netflix show, The Rain, immediately after having seen A Quiet Place, which is a textbook example of high-concept done right. Like John Krasinski’s phenomenal film, The Rain’s fortunes rest upon one idea - one gorgeous, stunningly realised and patiently explored idea. It might be too early to say - what with only three episodes being made available for preview - but The Rain has all the potential to become the new Dark.
Remember Dark, that mind bending German thriller that gave you all those cool new songs to listen to (and not to mention, the ability to brag to your friends that you’d seen 10 hours of something in a language that sounds like you’re getting passive aggressively yelled at for something you haven’t done)? That show gained popularity a few weeks after its debut - sort of like the first season of Stranger Things - when everyone and their grandmother seemed to have their own theories about the Kahnwalds and the Dopplers.
It’s likely that The Rain will see similar positive word of mouth - certainly, it deserves all the attention it gets. Boasting a delightfully imaginative premise clearly inspired by the works of Stephen King - toxic rain kills anyone who comes in contact with it - it’s a consistently engaging show, one that keeps reinventing itself in each new episode.
It begins with a family of four being hastily driven out of town by the father, whose job as a scientist at a secret facility has made him privy to some terrible news. Without any explanation, he pulls his teenage daughter out of school, hurls everyone in their car, and drives as fast as possible away from the looming dark clouds. A few miles outside town, in the woods, he has a secret bunker, which is where he intends to take his family, away from whatever darkness the clouds are carrying.
He leaves them there, in a forebodingly chilling room that he believes will keep them safe from the chaos outside, with enough supplies to last them six years and a promise that he’ll come back with more information. In that bunker, the family learns that the rain they were running away from is carrying a virus that takes the life of anyone who comes in contact with it.
Six years later, the two siblings - older, damaged - emerge from the bunker into a world they do not recognise anymore. They meet a group of survivors and together, they travel across a post-apocalyptic Scandinavia, where new dangers lurk behind every corner, in addition to the certain (and painful) death that rains from above.
It would be rude to reveal more details - if this was enough to sell Netflix on the show, it should be enough for you. But if you thought A Quiet Place’s tagline was effective (They hear you, they kill you) then you’ll be thrilled by what they’ve come up with for The Rain - Stay dry, stay alive.
If there is a metaphor for the rain, I didn’t pick up on it - but there has to be. There has to be a reason the show’s set in Denmark, and not, say, in Ranchi. There has to be a reason why the siblings, when they re-enter the outside world, interact with people they wouldn’t have before the rain fell. I’m not informed well enough to comment on the Danish class system, but it would be the least surprising thing in the world if they were to also be burdened by it, and ashamed of it. Certainly, there is a sense that the survivors harbour simmering prejudice against certain others, especially the siblings, whose privilege afforded them the safety of a bunker. Who knows what the rest of the world had to go through in the six years they spent underground?
But that’s subtext, and as the great Richard Ayoade wrote (via his alter ego Gordy LaSure) in his book, The Grip of Film: “On one level, Steven Spielberg’s creature feature (and yet another example of great high-concept filmmaking) Jaws is about a shark trying to eat people. The fact that it has no other level is why it’s so popular.”
And by that unquestionably flawed logic, The Rain has the potential to work for everyone.
Watch the trailer for The Rain here
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