One of the great things about Netflix is that it was one of the first streaming platforms to really invest in, and introduce a global audience to shows from non-English speaking countries.
Often this is where the hidden gems lie, and that includes To The Lake, a riveting and intense Russian sci-fi drama that manages to combine an apocalyptic vision of the future with the raw emotions of its characters.
The show is based on the 2011 novel Vongozero by Yana Vagner and is directed by Pavel Kostomarov and Ralitza Petrova.
But what is it all about, and is it worth watching?
What Is To The Lake About?
To The Lake is a post-apocalyptic series that is set when a terrifying plague strikes and spreads rapidly throughout Russia, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and embark on a perilous journey to a remote lake in the countryside, where they hope to find safety.
The virus is highly contagious, and the only way to avoid infection is to wear a special mask that filters the air. Because, once exposed to the mystery virus, death occurs within hours.
The story follows a group's frantic escape as they navigate this dangerous new world, dealing with issues such as trust, betrayal, survival, and sacrifice. Especially when a brutal attack puts all of them at risk.
The pandemic quickly overwhelms the authorities, and as law and order breaks down, our band of friends and families must avoid contact with the infected, rogue militias, and various assorted lunatics on the way to a remote Lakeside location. Think Mad Max meets The Walking Dead in a snowstorm! Or the Russian version of Black Summer.
Our plucky group of survivors includes a divorcee Kirill Käro, his new girlfriend, his ex-wife and their child, plus his girlfriend's autistic teenage son.
There's also an Oligarch, his young wife, and his drugged-up rebellious teen daughter from another marriage. All the things that turn a long road trip into a delightful experience! And I haven't even got to the estranged father yet.
So can they survive, reach their final destination, and make it to the lake? And even then, will it save them? Watch to find out.
To The Lake Official Trailer
Is To The Lake Worth Watching?
The diverse mix of characters goes a long way to keeping this series fresh and interesting. It's as far from the typical U.S. pandemic movie as you could get.
There are no hoards of zombie flesh eaters, yet the series still keeps you on the edge of your seat. The real monsters in this show are the humans the group meet once any semblance of society has broken down.
The visuals and production value on this show are top-notch. It looks great, and the acting is outstanding. Even with subtitles turned on, the actors deliver convincing performances.
One of the most impressive aspects of the series is how it manages to balance its bleak and hopeless vision of the future with moments of heartwarming and poignant emotion.
The characters are complex and multi-layered, and their relationships with each other are often fraught with tension and conflict. At the same time, the show manages to infuse moments of humour and warmth into the mix, making the viewer care about these characters and their fates.
The acting in To The Lake is uniformly excellent, with standout performances from Viktoriya Isakova as Anna, a divorced mother who will stop at nothing to protect her son, and Kirill Käro as Sergei, a rugged and resourceful ex-military man who becomes a leader among the survivors.
The direction is top-notch, with Kostomarov and Petrova creating a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere that perfectly captures the feeling of being trapped in a world that is falling apart.
Overall, To The Lake is a thrilling and emotionally resonant series that manages to balance its sci-fi premise with compelling characters and strong themes.
While some may find the show's grim tone and bleak outlook hard to stomach, for those who are willing to go along for the ride, it's a journey that is well worth taking.
One potential criticism of the series is its reliance on tropes and clichés commonly found in the post-apocalyptic genre, such as the idea of a ragtag group of survivors banding together to fight off danger.
However, To The Lake manages to put a unique spin on these tropes, making them feel fresh and engaging.
Overall, it is a masterful and thrilling sci-fi drama that will resonate with viewers who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally resonant storytelling.
To The Lake TV Series Cast
Kirill Käro as Sergey
Viktoriya Isakova as Anna, Sergey's new wife
Aleksandr Robak as Lyonya, Sergey's neighbour
Natalya Zemtsova as Marina, Lyonya's partner
Maryana Spivak as Irina, Sergey's ex-wife
Yuri Kuznetsov as Boris Mikhailovich, Sergey's father
Eldar Kalimulin as Misha, Anna's son, who has autism spectrum disorder
Viktoriya Agalakova as Polina, Lyonya's daughter
Saveliy Kudryashov as Anton, Sergey's and Irina's son
Aleksandr Yatsenko as Pavel
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