Equinox is perhaps too much of a slow-burn for its own good, but the compelling mystery and strong leading performance should lead audiences through its six episodes without much fuss.
This review of Equinox Season 1 is spoiler-free.
Since that period between Christmas and New Year tends to go on forever, there’s plenty of time to binge Netflix’s latest moody, slow-burn international series Equinox, a six-part Danish mystery that debuted today and combines elements of family drama, a dual-timeline investigation, and horror, all in a wintry Copenhagen. It’s good, but requires a bit of patience and doesn’t necessarily amount to a conclusion that’ll be satisfying for everyone. Then again it’s a Netflix Original series, and they never really end, do they?
Centering on Astrid, the host of a spooky radio call-in show who, out of the blue, receives a frantic call from a weird dude who claims to be one of three survivors of a mysterious busload of students who randomly disappeared twenty years prior, Equinox chronicles her season-long investigation as she returns to Copenhagen and begins digging into the bizarre circumstances surrounding the event, motivated by the fact that her sister was among those who disappeared. Across its six patient episodes, both the present-day and the past are explored, and a mystery begins to take shape, one that involves the usual family secrets, satanic cults, and… demons?
Yeah, it’s a lot, but it doesn’t feel like it. Equinox treats its plot and characters with the utmost seriousness, playing up the drama and the ambiguity, and the lingering trauma of loss. The editing here is markedly better than something like The Stand, which plays with the same conceit but isn’t as good at transitioning between timelines and making the distinction clear for the audience. As with most European dramas of this sort, mood is everything, and Equinox is careful to build it – using music and pretty cinematography, particularly – with more priority than it gives the twists and turns of the plot.
Sometimes, it’s too careful. Even at just six episodes, Equinox can definitely sag, and the joy of piecing together what’s what is underscored slightly by Netflix’s usual direct-to-binge distribution model, which doesn’t give certain ideas time to bed in before they’re either confirmed as truth or exposed as red herrings. Vaguely surreal lite-horror asides are nice-looking but ultimately not that effective, at least not in comparison to the suspense-building of the overarching mystery itself.
Still, the details of that mystery, and a very strong, layered leading performance, will help audiences stick with Equinox for the long-ish haul, though whether they’re satisfied by the ending will be another matter. There’s plenty to enjoy, though, and it’s very competently put together, with enough trust in its audience to not spell things out too clearly. That’s rare enough to be worthy of praise.