'The Woods' Review: Netflix's Polish thriller packs a punch with its psychological tale of a mysterious death
'The Woods' stands out due to its excellent Polish cast and its ability to reiterate important scenes with intense cinematography
No spoilers for 'The Woods'
Netflix's new original drama/mystery thriller series 'The Woods' brings with it a storyline of thrilling suspense and actors with intense skill. The polish raw murder mystery is based on a novel of the same name written by author Harlan Coben. The story chronicles the life of prosecutor Paweł Kopinski (Grzegorz Damiecki) as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his sister's disappearance at a summer camp 25 years ago. The present sees him still struggling from the loss of his sister as human remains found at the site of his sister's disappearance opens up room for more evidence to surface. Could his sister be alive? The trailer had already shown a promising thrill, and let's say the delivery was on point.
The story reveals a typical plot of fishy disappearances and dead bodies with ample room for the potential of a great climax. Pawel becomes privy to family secrets through his journey for the search of his sister, and what he finds may break him. Grzegorz Damiecki's Pawel Kopinski is a strong character with intense determination to unsolve the riddles of the past. The series also makes viewers aware of the psychological effects of trauma as we are shown how the loss of Kopinski's sister has deeply altered his mind. This was a refreshing subtle social awareness part of the plot, as we see Damiecki bring the character to life with flawless ease. The show doesn't just focus on Kopinski when it comes to psychological trauma, it also explores the mind of Laura Goldsztajn (Agnieszka Grochowska), which is triggered with haunting memories from her experience in the woods all those years ago after she reads an essay.
As the series begins, it's very easy for one to become attached to the characters, as we learn of how a summer camp event in 1994 ends with tragic circumstances -- two dead bodies, and two children missing. The narrative of the brutal crime is clearly explored right at the start and as the connection with the present is immediately shown, viewers, become invested in Kopinski's character. 25 years later, still reeling from the loss of his sister, he is asked to help identify a murder victim. The remains were found at the same site Kopinski's sister had gone missing. We're shown the events of that night in 1994 as the story in the present unfolds and secrets are uncovered, secrets that Kopinski has a hard time dealing with.
The series falls in line with many productions with similar plotlines delving into a mysterious death in the woods, but it does stand out due to its excellent Polish cast and its ability to reiterate important scenes with intense cinematography. The scenes are as gripping as the tale, and the direction by Leszek Dawid and Bartosz Konopka should be applauded. The chemistry the characters, including the younger actors, possess with their cast members reflects the story very well. We, as viewers, are very quickly pulled into the story, as we wait, wanting to find out if Kopinski finds his sister. For lack of better words, it's raw and intentional storytelling with boring parts that don't fade into the background, but rather spark more suspicion with its jarring imagery and carefully crafted script.
The series was shot in Poland but you won't miss any part of the dialogues or plotlines, thanks to the English subtitles.
'The Woods' is available to stream on Netflix on June 12, 2020.