Ares is a Netflix Original Horror series created and produced in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, college student Rosa, determined to be a medical professional, joins a secret society. She finds, however, that the organization has underlying horrors.
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve seen the premise “secret organization with underlying horrors” but trust me this series does things differently. I’m sure Martyrs, Hostel, and possibly Cabin in the Woods come to mind, but neither of those have Ares’ unique style, or Ares’ several flaws with that.
Firstly, before discussing the major flaws with the series, it’s important to mention the one flaw most important, yet least the fault of the show itself: the country of origin. The show was produced in the Netherlands, and so all of the characters speak in the native tongue of the region, which is fine for the most part. The show’s dubbed with the voices of the original actors, which is both good as the quality of acting remains high, but bad as the quality of pronunciation does not. There are some points in the series where it’s hard to make out what the actors are saying. This is only remedied by the subtitles, which are also bad. Oftentimes, they don’t match what the actors are saying. One has to rely on a mix of both the subs and dubs in order to understand what’s being said.
Unfortunately, that’s not the series’ only flaw. Ares develops this organization, aptly called Ares, as a secret society that does… something. We’re never really sure what Ares does, or what they’re purpose is as an organization, but they definitely do something. You get lines that would suggest that it’s a college of some kind, with words like “class” and “alumni”, that might suggest Ares is an academic institution, but you also see that a lot of the members are older, and not being talked about like students, so it’s hard to tell. You’re never really sure what the draw of Ares is. You see people that definitely want to be in Ares, yet you’re never completely sure why. If it were because Ares is a school and the success rate of the alumni were really high, that might make sense. But you never see that, and are left wondering why anyone would ever really want to join Ares in the first place, especially given the shocking things that happen within the organization’s walls. If we knew what the organization was, we’d understand why these characters would still remain in it, but we don’t see that, and so we’re just left confused.
One of the worst characters, as a result, is Rosa. She goes to extreme lengths to prove herself within Ares, yet we’re never sure why. And, coupled with that, the extreme lengths she goes to, to fit in the organization, are cruel regardless of how important being in Ares theoretically is. She’s careless in her actions sometimes, and one might suggest this is a result of the organization turning her into an evil person if she were likeable from the beginning, which she’s not. While the writers definitely intended for her to come across as a headstrong, determined woman, she often comes across as pretentious and annoying. She, for example, said to a teacher that she didn’t want all of the notes for a certain class to be online as that wasn’t “challenging” enough for her. She’s rude to a lot of the people she associates with, pre-Ares, and it only gets worse when she joins. She has some redeeming qualities, however, caring for her mother and getting upset when her dad doesn’t allow her to see him, but she definitely isn’t a great character.
One thing that’s definitely worth mentioning is that the show can be confusing at times, with the show’s ending being the worst offender. While the show might have a second season that clears up a lot of these details, there are lots of things that didn’t make any sense. We leave the show not knowing what the horror imbedded within this organization actually is, only getting brief glimpses at it. Again, these things may be revealed in the future. It wasn’t a major turnoff for me, and I imagine it won’t be a major turnoff for plenty of you, but it’s important to mention, as for those of you that are turned off by this probably shouldn’t give the series a watch.
Furthermore, the show has a lot of positives with its flaws. For example, the show’s episodes only last thirty minutes, which is refreshing compared to most horror series that run for forty minutes to an hour. The music is excellent, perfectly fitting the show and adding to the different scenes. And, the pacing never feels rushed. There are no scenes that seem to have taken too long or too short. Everything’s just right. There’s never a moment where you feel bored with the plot, even if you have no idea what’s going on.
The series has excellent cinematography. The show’s visuals feel like it came from a Rembrant painting, and I imagine with the several references to him that it might’ve. There are a number of scenes where the background is black, yet the foreground is lit up, which is incredibly unique. Never before have I seen a show that looks exactly like Ares does, which makes it worth watching just for that alone. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the series has moments of extreme terror, while doing it in a way that’s visually pleasing at the same time. For example, and this is a spoiler, so if you don’t like spoilers, skip to the next paragraph, the series uses black liquid very heavily as a visual motif. No matter what situation black liquid is used in, however, the result is terror. The black liquid vomit in the show almost made me, well… vomit, and then made me too scared to, because I was too afraid black liquid would come out of my mouth.
The show’s writing definitely has flaws, as mentioned earlier, but, if you can get past them, the writing isn’t all that bad. The dialogue in particular is really solid, highlighting some of the show’s terrifying scenes, and adding suspense to the scenes that aren’t. It almost made me forget that the writing has major flaws. The acting also helps. All of the actors are really good at their roles. Jade Olieberg made me almost like Rosa. There were certain scenes in which she cries, for example, that made me feel that she, despite that she does some pretty terrible things, might be a good person, which is entirely a result of the quality of Jade Olieberg’s acting.
While there were some flaws with the series, overall the show does certain things really well, which makes it worth the watch.
Ares: Season 1: Unoriginal Plot, Original Execution
Writing - 6.9/106.9/10
Storyline - 6.5/106.5/10
Acting - 9.3/109.3/10
Music - 9.3/109.3/10
Production - 9.7/109.7/10
User Review( vote)