If you desire atmospheric horror with thoughtful pacing and picturesque scenery, then travel to the frightening French mountains of “The Chalet.” Dwelling on the fatal combination of passion, infidelity and contempt, “The Chalet” creates a complex and remarkable tale.
Title: "The Chalet"
Year it began: 2018
Where it can be seen: Netflix
Who’s in it: Chloé Lambert, Manuel Blanc, Agnès Delachair, Nicolas Gob, Maud Detromer, Matthieu Simonet and Thierry Godard.
Typical episode length: 53 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 6
Brief plot description: A group of old friends and their partners celebrate a wedding at Valmoline, a rural village in a remote part of the French Alps. After they become isolated by a bridge collapse, the visitors and village residents experience horrors connected to Valmoline’s dark past.
Why it’s worth watching: “The Chalet” offers a gripping story that uses sublime mountain scenery and an exquisitely paced mystery to generate an atmosphere of passion and dread. Weaving together events from 1997 and 2017, the French-language series recounts a tragic history that begins with friction between paranoid locals and urban outsiders who move to their secluded village. “The Chalet” makes fine cinematographic use of lakes, forests and charmingly rustic buildings, while giving ample time for emotional interactions among the many members of its large and vibrant cast.
Lambert is outstanding as the love-stricken Muriel Personnaz, whose dashed dreams of romantic escape leave her a haunted figure. Blanc is excellent as the self-indulgent, unfaithful writer Jean-Louis Rodier, whose search for inspiration brings him and his family to Valmoline. Delachair is riveting as the fiery Alice Bordaz. Gob presents an intensely off-putting portrait of toxic masculinity as Sébastien Genesta. Some excellent work by younger actors powerfully presents the 1997 events that haunt Valmoline: Louvia Bachelier compellingly plays the sensitive and loyal young Alice. Max Libert’s morose and maladjusted Sébastien conducts a fierce rivalry with Félix Lefèbvre’s gentle and unjustly tormented Julien. Other standout performances include Detromer’s moody actress Maude Jurez, who suffers an abusive lover’s cruelties; Simonet’s sensitive chef Fabio Romani, who has an infectious enthusiasm for verdant Valmoline’s herbal treasures; and Godard’s gruff Alexandre Grossange, who left mathematics to become a mountain hermit. Succeeding both as a horror story and as a tale of revenge, “The Chalet” is a mesmerizing and satisfying miniseries.
Also to consider
“The Rain.” For a show that combines the mystifying horror of “The Chalet” with the genres of science fiction and post-apocalyptic survival, binge-watch the Danish series “The Rain” (2018). After a catastrophic deadly virus spreads rapidly through infected rain in Scandinavia, “The Rain” follows survivors who hope for a cure while dealing with a toxic environment and predatory groups of “strangers.” At the center of the show lies the resourceful Simone Andersen (played with power and grace by Alba August), who is left alone in a bunker to protect her brother, Rasmus (played by Bertil de Lorenzi as a boy, and by Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen as the teenaged Rasmus), after her scientist-father left to seek a cure for the virus (with whose origin he is somehow linked). Featuring desolate landscapes and eerily depopulated cities, and starring a stalwart group of survivors led by Martin (Mikkel Følsgaard) and the soulfully intense Beatrice (Angela Bundalovic), “The Rain” offers a thrilling tale of youths using courage and science to survive. Information: 1 season, 8 episodes, 40 minutes each. Netflix
“Anon.” For a gripping film that dwells on the mysterious atmosphere of “The Chalet” and the futuristic anxiety of “The Rain,” watch the Netflix film “Anon.” Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, “Anon” features police detective Sal Frieland (played with noir cool by Clive Owen), who works in a time where all people’s memories and experiences are connected to the “Ether” — a digital network that shows al things from people’s point of view, making crime-detection easy. Frieland’s world of easy investigations is rocked when crimes occur where the assailant is able to hack into another’s point of view and obscure all criminal evidence. His investigation intensifies when he meets a mysterious “fixer” (played with luminous intensity by Amanda Seyfried) who knows how to manipulate memory recordings, and who appears to have learned to keep her identity off the grid. With cool graphics showing a paranoid world where digital surveillance meshes with nearly all aspects of life, “Anon” is a taut, cerebral thriller.