Netflix Review: ‘Ares’ is a Perfect Blend of Mystery and Horror

The road to success is full of hurdles. There are a number of things that you have to be prepared to do, difficult decisions have to be made. The task becomes even tougher when others get involved. When you have to make the choices that will affect a lot of people, then you have to set aside your own preferences and do the things that you might not like. There will be moments when you have to do something bad.

To do what is necessary, you should also be prepared to deal with the guilt of it. Some of us accept that guilt and try not to let it come back again in some other form. Others suppress it and hide it for as long as possible. But it eventually comes back to bite them. Netflix’s first Dutch original, ‘Ares’, revolves around this matter and spins a thought-provoking tale using supernatural horror.

Ares Season 1 Recap

Rosa is a medical student. She works hard and takes care of her mother while her father works the night shifts. She is also frustrated with her life. She wonders when, if ever, she will reap the rewards for all the hard work and dedication. One day, her best friend, who has been AWOL for three months, comes back. Through him, she comes in contact with a group of people who tell her about a secret society that is responsible for making their country so successful and powerful. When they invite her to join them, she accepts, out of sheer curiosity. Slowly, the layers start peeling off and the truth of Ares is revealed to her.

Ares Season 1 Review

Ares’ is a very condensed show. In a runtime of roughly half-an-hour, it speeds up the story, quickly jumping from one plot point to another with every episode. However, nowhere does it seem to be in a hurry. The storytelling is precise to the point of every minute you spend watching the show. This also adds to the urgency and hence the paranoia that intensifies around the protagonist as she spirals deeper in the ranks of the organization that she barely knows anything about. Her complete detachment from her family also adds to her isolation and helplessness, and just like her, the audience also feels the walls closing in on them.

The characters of the show are another great thing about it. As Rosa, we get a perfect protagonist. Her perspective of the secret society is driven by curiosity, as is ours. The mysteries of this place are as alien to us as to her. And so, she is also ambitious enough to not stop at minor crossroads. She is ready to look the other way when the time comes and even helps cover-up things if that’s what required of her. She is not made of gold which is why she sees the entire thing to the end.

Jade Olieberg gives a powerful performance as Rosa. The quick pace of the story needs her to swiftly jump from the role of a responsible daughter to a rebellious one, from a curious cat who is not afraid to look around to a scared rat who wants to run away from all of it. Olieberg brings out all of these shades in her character with equal intensity and becomes one of the reasons why the audience would be invested in the show.

There are a number of things that make ‘Ares’ a good show, but the real hero is the heart of it. There is a supernatural element to it that blends into horror, and the mysterious nature of Ares society keep us hooked. The first scene, itself, which plays out as the montage of a girl’s life in Ares society leaves us shocked and births a number of questions that we are compelled to have answered.

But all of it has to mean something, or it would be in vain. Often, we see a great build-up in stories, but in the end, they amount to nothing or at least something that is not worth the effort put into the story. ‘Ares’ doesn’t have that flaw. The writers knew exactly where they wanted to take Rosa’s story, and they kept it very close to its central theme, never veering off into unnecessary subplots, which most commonly appears in the form of a romance.

Netflix’s first foray into Dutch stories has delivered a great show. It is crisp and clear-cut, and something that makes you think about your own life and your guilt. What have you been sweeping under the rug all this time?

Read More: Ares Ending, Explained

Rating: 4/5