Netflix’s mesmerizing new German-language series Dark certainly is aptly named. A great deal of the new 10-episode season takes place in dim rooms and unlit garages, in an ominously oppressive forest and a shadowy cave, or under sickly, faltering lighting that suggests a kind of heavy moral decay falling over the world. The series is conceptually dark, full of cheating spouses, ugly secrets, grotesque killings, and dead birds falling from the sky in a hail of limp, twisted bodies. But more noticeably, it’s as physically dark as an early David Fincher movie, and it carries the same level of ominous weight. It’s a series meant to be watched late at night, with the lights off, experienced like a ghost story around a campfire that’s burning down to its final embers.

Netflix’s first original German series — part of a growing foray into international productions, aimed at digging deeper into local entertainment markets — comes from Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the co-writers and director of 2014’s hacker-thriller Who Am I: No System Is Safe. It has some obvious aesthetics in common with that film. Swiss director bo Odar loves images of sleight-of-hand magic and glowering men lurking deep in the depths of giant hoods, and Dark shares Who Am I’s grimy, heavy cinematography and screaming discordant soundtrack.

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But Dark slows down the story from Who Am I’s more frantic pacing, using the space of a 10-hour TV series to establish an entire town of people reacting to a slow-motion series of personal disasters. In that sense, Dark is closer to the original run of David Lynch and Mark…

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