Bring me the apocalypse! Been saying that for a while now but any predictions keep on letting us down so it is a case of having to turn to fiction and film for an end of days fix. This is thankfully something that is in no short supply and there is big business in mankind’s extinction, a fascinating scenario that has many dreamers fixated on, no doubt spurred on by the current situation and worldwide events both ecologically and due to people’s greed and unhinged willingness to destroy each other. Recently the smaller screen has proven a good place to look to for further drama on the subject and it seems like it’s not just the big hitters and the zombies of The Walking Dead that are spurring on fervour of the subject. Recently Danish programme The Rain has captivated with its bunch of survivors struggling in the aftermath of a man-made virus. Then there’s strange time twisting German series Dark which takes a unique stance on things but inevitably leads down the path of possible mass extinction. It is Germany we turn to here as well for the 8-part series 8 Days directed by Michael Krummenacher & Stefan Ruzowitzky.

There are two ways of presenting the Apocalypse basically, post and pre. With the post situation a dystopian society is left to gather up the pieces and survive after the event and this is by far the more prevalent scenario. It’s the pre-apocalypse situation that is far less tackled and in many ways the more interesting that we turn to here though. Often Armageddon is short lived and you have no time to prepare for it. The virus has struck from out of nowhere, the nuclear missiles have been launched and their strike is imminent. 8 Days as suggested looks at the situation that an unavoidable disaster is going to happen and despite efforts cannot be prevented. People will react accordingly, in this case be it by utter resignation, or turning to any manner of things the think could save them. Normally it is a case of a heavenly body that is subject to destruction in this sense. You can look at parallels here from 1961 Val Guest classic The Day The Earth Caught Fire where the sun is on a collision course to burn up the planet to Lars Von Trier’s hauntingly gorgeous 2011 feature Melancholia where we are doomed to collide with another planet. Here it is Horus a giant meteorite that is due to strike and it is scheduled to hit France. This doesn’t mean the world will necessarily end for everyone and places like the USA may well survive for those that can escape and get there from a soon to be devastated Europe. Russia may even be lucky and it is here we first see a family of desperate would be survivalists trying to get to.

8 Days centres around an extended family living in the suburbs close to Berlin and their attempts to escape their fate. They are all pretty much separated by life and make up for an interesting set of people from the grandfather whose tale stems back to the war and the divide of East and West Germany to the foolish and corrupt political pawn whose actions have led to preparations for the event going seriously awry. All he is looking for now is a way out for him and heavily pregnant girlfriend. Then there is the nuclear family mum, dad, daughter and son whose relationship melodrama is a key and intense focal narrative point. Dotted around them are a host of people living nearby from a greedy boss and bunker builder who has trapped his wild and promiscuous daughter underground at the start of the series and will stop at nothing to ensure they survive. There are those who turn to hedonism, sex and drugs making this a very adult affair and others religion. Could a messiah like figure whose strange presence affects them be the saviour to the disenchanted people’s survival?

There’s stacks going on here and as far as I am concerned the cast do keep things very interesting. I have for once done something very different here review wise and written this down 6 out of 8 episodes in. It’s obvious that Horus is going to either wipe out humanity or not but at the moment I am as in the dark about that as anyone else. It has been a struggle not binging on 8 Days and although I have been devouring it hungrily I have somehow managed to make it last with a bit of patience being very necessary.

8 Days kind of leaves you questioning what you would do in this situation and your own humanity. This is something that is mainly going to be determined by environment, indeed it seems like access to weapons is a damn sight easier to find in Germany than it would be in the UK and of course the country has always been looked upon for its efficiency. Will it be so though in the face of utmost chaos, especially when blame is apportioned on those in power and their favour of the wealthier elite?

Apart from a couple of “suspend all belief” silly moments here acting, visual flair and look, music and direction are all very good and the budget seems to have stretched pretty far too. I have gone out of my way to avoid anything to do with this on the internet due to spoilers myself and have found it an edgy and enthralling programme which I could happily see expand into further series; although won’t be holding breath on that happening. Originally screened on Sky Atlantic the 480-minute feature is released both digitally and on double DVD on the 6th Jan; that is if the apocalypse doesn’t happen before then.

Pete Woods