WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
When a mysterious cosmic disaster strikes Earth, survivors on an overnight flight from Brussles race to find refuge and escape the sun's rays.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
It's quite a surreal feeling to watch an apocalyptic series while feeling like you're living the 'apocalypse' in real life. Netflix's first Belgium original show Into the Night is quite simple in premise, yet makes for a thrilling, emotional journey with normal people trying to survive. And the best part? No Americans saving the day anywhere.
When it comes to the end-of-the-world genre, the dominance of American media is quite stark. Gung-ho attitudes and guns blazing tend to be the norm, and it limits the cultural perspectives of a look at how humanity as a whole might handle such extreme situations. While focusing on Belgium, Into the Night's cast comes from diverse backgrounds - Turkish, French, Italian, African, Russian, Polish, Moroccan - and provides a nuanced look at human resilience and desperation.
Inspired by the Polish novel The Old Axolotl, the six-episode series follows a group of passengers on a hijacked plane who come to realise the world is ending below them. To survive, they have to try to outrun the sun, turned deadly by unknown causes.
A definite sleeper-hit for Netflix, this is a show that will blow you away. Thoughtfully written and a beautiful expose of humanity's strengths and weaknesses, it's also thrilling enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a show you'll binge very easily in a day. Time is spent on carefully crafting each character, unique in their experiences and their reasons behind why they react the way they do in each scenario. Even though it takes place over only a few days, they grow with each challenge they face, and something that feels quite empowering when dealing with our current world situation. In almost every episode, someone says 'one problem at a time' as a way of coping - comforting words for stressful times.
In the beginning, there will be some characters you'll strongly dislike - but beyond survival, it's also a show about redemption. People make small and big mistakes that affect the group as a whole, but most try to atone for what they've done, some even surprised by where the forgiveness comes from. My favourite characters were Ayaz - a Turkish businessman with a soft spot for a sick boy and his fierce mother - and Ines the influencer. It's clear she's lived her whole life on social media, and when the futility of her videos and photos of what's happening dawns on her, it's really heartbreaking. She could have been crafted as this spoiled brat, but instead, she's someone who doesn't let anyone bully her and cares for those around her.
What also makes the show quite gripping is that you have no idea how it's going to turn out. It's not clear cut who's going to make it and who doesn't - or even if the whole group would survive. It doesn't follow a pattern with predictable outcomes - instead, it keeps you guessing until the end, and I can't wait for what comes next.
Into the Night might be one of my favourite shows of 2020, and while you're left wanting more, a wholly complete story was told in its short run. It's a testament to Netflix's great content strategy to expand its repertoire outside of American and British offerings. As Belgium's first original show for the streaming giant, it was a home-run.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE