Posted by Holly
Darknet is a little gem of a series I discovered while scouring the bowels of the Netflix horror section. With a little further research, I discovered it is a Canadian remake of what was originally a Japanese series called Torihada (which I have not seen, and hope to seek out). Darknet’s run is incredibly brief; at just over twenty minutes a piece, the whole series is comprised of merely six episodes.
So what do they pack into those six episodes that make it worth watching? A hell of a lot, actually. Darknet doesn’t aim to tell one streamlined story, but rather a number of tangentially related stories occuring at the same time. The one main thing that ties this anthology of horror vignettes together is a gruesome website that thrives on the documentation and public sharing of violence and horrific crime.
Since this series, by its nature, is a little all over the place, I’ll focus the attention on a couple of the more substantial stories. The character we see the most often (appearing in three episodes) is a doctor named Alison, who after killing an intruder in her home out of panic and fear, develops a taste for the thrill of murder. Her transformation from what initially appears as the stereotypical final-girl victim role into a ruthless predator is a really fun twist, and I appreciated seeing the subversion of the young female victim trope. There are no holds barred from there on out.
The fifth episode, which I maintain is the strongest one of the series, is the only one to focus on a single storyline through the whole episode. It revolves around Katie, a woman whose apparent anxiety keeps her isolated from nearly any social connections she might make. This anxiety only heightens once she starts receiving strange emails that contain videos of grisly attacks, and a handwritten note with a date on it. This episode is fantastic on its own merits, using the strength of its main actress to garner sympathy and horror, and a soundtrack that is on point in knowing when to use music, and silence, to evoke fear.
The series manages to be scary without taking itself too seriously, and to maintain its central theme without forcing anything. As stated, most of the stories within a single episode connect in some way, but not always in a way that is obvious or relevant. In one episode, a cartoonist is featured in one segment, and a girl with a tattoo of one of his creations is featured in another – a superficial connection at most. However, in an otherwise unrelated third story, the girl is revealed to be a character’s sister. These kinds of details allow the stories to have an air of mystery and intrigue about them, even when the stories themselves unfold into foregone conclusions.
This is a really easy single-day marathon you can squeeze into a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it would be well worth your time. It’s not adding anything particularly new or innovative to the horror genre, but it is solid, entertaining, and more than a little gruesome.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Scariness level: Pretty effective! Episode 5 is the best for creepiness, but every episode has its moments.
Violence level: As far as I can imagine they’re allowed to take things on Canadian TV. Nothing worse than what you’ve seen on American Horror Story, but pretty high on the violence scale. (Think: axe to the face, stabbings aplenty, black market surgeries).
Bechdel test: Not all episodes pass, but some do. Alison has at least one or two conversations with a female friend of hers, not revolving around men.
Mako Mori test: Katie’s story is enough for me to give this a pass.