Dark Woods Review – Riveting True Crime Drama

Dark Woods, a Topic original limited series, presents the compelling crime drama that focuses on the disappearance of the sister of a high-ranking Hamburg police officer, and the detectives who get stuck on a suspect without evidence.

The series opens with the image of a woman running through a forest, terrified, she turns and screams.

After a quick introduction to an older Thomas Bethge, played by Matthias Brandt now retired from a lifetime of public service as the Head of the Hamburg State Office of Criminal Investigation, who looks into the mirror and says, "I have to find her." We understand who ever she is, her disappearance is nagging at him and has for some time.

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The series then loops back to the summer of 1989. Bethge is receiving a promotion, and his family including his sister Barbara Neder, played by Silke Bodenbender, his wife Marianne, played by Jenny Schily and mother, Erika, played by Hildegard Schmahl, are all there to celebrate his big day.

Seven hours away in the small town of Weesenburg the police have discovered two bodies, badly decomposed and covered with branches. Detectives Anne Bach, played by Koraline Schuch and Jan Gerke, played by August Wittgenstein, are at the scene.

Not far another couple, looking to escape to the woods to be alone, turns to see a man with a rifle approaching. Soon they are also murdered. Four bodies in two weeks and no suspects.

Then we find Barbara Neder and her husband, Robert, played by Nicholas Ofczarek are divorcing and it is not amicable. Her coping skills include too much alcohol and after a bout of sobriety she returns to her home only to binge again. Robert shows up with the divorce papers and she signs.

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She is never seen again. She disappears from her home without a trace.

Of course, as always, the husband did it and the lead investigators Anne Bach and Jan Gerke, work the theories until they are also convinced. While working this case, the murders from the forest are also going unsolved and anyone living an eccentric life is considered a suspect.

Soon Anne Bach believes the Barbara Neder's neighbor Jurgen Becker, played by Hanno Koffler, who had something to do with her disappearance.

The years tick by and as the police brass are unable to find the Neder's body they seem cemented with the idea that the husband did it and found a way to drive to the Baltic sea and dump her body in the ocean.

As the years continue to pass, confident in their conclusion, they refuse any suggestions and evidence that sheds the slightest doubt on their foregone conclusion.

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Bethage, even in his position, is not permitted to intervene or interfere in the investigation. He receives the same cold stare from the Weesenburg police brass. Unable to just do nothing he asks former Hamburg Detective Anne Bach and his longtime partner Frank Behringer, played by played by Andreas Lust.

Bach continues to inform him of her growing suspicions surrounding the neighbor Jergen Becker, and even defies her direct superior's orders and goes above his head to a prosecutor seeking a warrant and permission to search the grounds.

Finally, they move closer to him only to have the local authorities stop the search before it could be completed. Bethge's quest for justice continues long after his retirement as he and his team, through painstaking and meticulous research, finally get on the investigation back on track and even then they face internal hurdles and roadblocks suggesting his facilities were diminished.

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Dark Woods is inspired by real-life disappearance beginning in 1989 and the lengthy investigation that lasted for nearly two decades. Riveting, captivating, and binge worthy, this sinister mini-series tells the story about a family tragedy, and of a brother searching for his missing sister for more than 30 years. 

A fascinating thriller Dark Woods is hypnotizing with spellbinding plot twists and turns. Streaming on Roku and other VOD platforms. See it.


Country: Germany.

Language: German with English subtitles.

Runtime: Six episodes/45 minutes each.

Director: Sven Bohse.

Writer: Stefan Kolditz.

Cast: Matthias Brandt, Karoline Schuch, Silke Bodenbender, August Wittgenstein, Nicholas Ofczarek, Jenny Schily, Hildegard Schmahl, Hanno Koffler, Mirco Kreibich, Andreas Lust, Karsten Antonio Mielke, Mortitz Grove, Janina Fautz, Anne Werner Thomsen, Nadeshda Brennicke, Barbara Romaner, Pheline Roggan, Nikola Kastner, Roman Knizka, Lisa Hagmeister, Daniel Lommatzsch, Victoria Fleer, Michael Schreitel, Stefan Kloditz.

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