Season 1 of Black Spot (Zone Blanche), a dark and suspenseful mystery series from France, is streaming on Netflix now. Season 2 arrives on June 14.
The series is set in a heavily forested area in a town called Villefranche. The head of the police department Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim), called The Major by her officers, investigates a string of deaths and inexplicable events.
The Steiner family owns the town. Bertrand Steiner (Samuel Jouy), the Mayor, runs the sawmill and several other businesses. The two overarching storylines for the whole of season 1 involve his missing daughter and activities against the Steiners and their businesses from a group of protestors called Children of Arduinna.
Mixed in with those overarching storylines, each of the 8 episodes has its own mysterious event. There are deaths, kidnapped babies, lost cavers, gangs of criminals, dead farmers, predatory heroes, protests, high school initiation ceremonies, and other always suspenseful events. They all require a foray into the creepy dark forest, or creepy dark caves, or creepy dark barns, or creepy dark houses.
The series is all atmospheric touches – dark settings, lots of mist and fog, prophetic crows who are almost actors in the drama, bones and stuffed creatures everywhere. The forest might be alive, or the trees might be alive and vindictive, or there might be some shadowy presence in the forest – it is implied but not revealed in season 1. There are meaningful symbols and friendly wolves.
The people in the Villefranche police revolve around the main character Laurène. Nounours (Hubert Delattre) works with her. Nounours means Teddy Bear in English, which I took to be a nickname. Teddy Bear is Laurène main officer. He is indeed a big bear of a man. And he’s gay, which is one of many subplots in the series. Hermann (Renaud Rutten) is an investigator who is good at finding information from large bits of data. Camille (Tiphaine Daviot) is the receptionist. She’s studying to become an officer, when the crows aren’t driving her to distraction. The final character in every investigation is the doctor, Leïla Barami (Naidra Ayadi).
Into this mix of officials comes Franck Siriani (Laurent Capelluto), a district attorney from out of town. He’s looking into all sorts of things that aren’t revealed at first. He hangs around and becomes part of several investigations. He’s definitely an oddball in this town where everyone knows everyone.
Other regular characters include Léa Steiner (Anne Suarez), the Mayor’s wife, and Sabine (Brigitte Sy), who runs the bar where everyone hangs out at night.
The series title Black Spot (Zone Blanche) is certainly an odd translation. I can only assume that someone (Netflix perhaps) thought black was a more menacing color to Americans than white. (See a clarification in the comments.)
If you love a binge-worthy suspense drama, give this one a look.
Watch the trailer for Black Spot (Zone Blanche)
I couldn’t find a season 1 trailer with English subtitles. I’m including one from French TV so you can see the style of cinematography and characters. Netflix, of course, has it with English subtitles.
Have you seen this suspenseful drama? I’m planning to watch season 2. Are you?