“In Iceland, the weather is the biggest character you deal with every day. There’s nothing more relevant to your life than what kind of weather it is”. KATLA shows that Iceland weather is a exquisite but moody character whose tantrum you have to deal with every day just like the above quote.
Katla trailer is promising as it shows a supernatural expedition in Iceland, the mystical land of volcanoes, ice and fire and it reminds me how hard to survive in the battle with nature. KATLA is a Scandinavian science-fiction thriller created by Baltasar Kormákur. It is Netflix’s first Icelandic series.
Story and screenplay
The series is about a small-town Vik that changed forever after a near volcano eruption.
One year after the outbreak of this eruption of the sub glacial volcano Katla, the peace in Vík has been dramatically disturbed with the eruption still active. Most of the days, it faces Ash-storm and it’s highly unhealthy. The ice near the volcano has been melting, the area has been evacuated as it’s a highly danger zone and only a few remaining people manage to leave here for their personal bounds.
One of them is Grima’s family. Grima (Guðrún Eyfjörð) ,a local police, stays here to find her missing sister Ása (Íris Tanja Flygenring), disappeared from the glacier one year back at the time of eruptions started.
The story shows a shocking turn when sudden appearance of a naked woman crusted in ash on the glacier came back to Vik and she resembles with Gunhild, a Swedish woman who worked at a local hotel in Vik 20 years ago. This newly found strange woman is literally the younger version of original Gunhild. As the local police captain Gisli investigates her history and finds Gunhild is now staying in Swedish city with her adult son.
Then, Grima discovers her missing sister Asa at a near camp, covered with ash. This slow burn mysterious story progresses with revealing new secrets and all surrounds with Katla only. Each episode progresses with emotional exploration of grief and regret. But the key element mystery somewhat replaces with more confusion here and loses its charm, I feel.
There are different overlapping subplots and they are very much related. Eventually, Darri (Björn Thors), a scientist, studying Katla samples, finds evidence of new theory of this mystery. He definitely plays a significant role to find out the real truth in limelight.
As the series progresses, I truly miss the tight grip of the plot, also unnecessary characters are insignificantly added without proper reasons. There are numerous thrilling sequences that could be shown differently in a more meaningful way, I feel.
Also, the series somehow ends with a cliff-hanger which I don’t like.
Finally, I can say that Katla tries to deliver a strong message of the consequences of human greed and desire that comes from their own action’s only and the conclusion could have been more meaningful.
Performance & Direction
Dialogues are monotonous and very much basic, nothing I can point out. Sometimes Silence can sparkle specially in Sci-fi mysterious show, I feel that sparkling vibe very limited here.
The cinematography is awesome. This series is definitely a visual treat to my eyes as it beautifully shows Iceland’s landscape. Black sand beaches, hot water springs, long glaciers, volcanic eruptions with ash storm and of course a real mystery like “not only dead people, also living people are coming back” are definitely great to make such an interesting plot.
Baltasar Kormákur has done a marvelous job choosing all the locations, showing Iceland in a picturesque angle. But character engagement is not connected with the overall series.
Katla is not a single character plotline series. Unnecessary characters ruin the continuity of this series, I must say, middle episodes are lengthy and add chaos only. Guðrún Eyfjörð as Grima is convincing and the only character that stands out. I could feel her pain in the series.
Honestly, I had a huge expectation from Katla. Despite of strong plot element, it fails to provide any specific answers to the main mystery.
As a first Icelandic series also filled with Ice and Fire, it definitely attracts huge eyeballs and I guess we will get season 2 soon. If you want to watch unique mystery series with amazing cinematography in Icelandic accent, I will definitely recommend you to watch it in big screen.
It’s available in Netflix.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.