REVIEW: 1899 is Netflix's latest attempt to recapture the magic mystery of Lost 1 year ago

REVIEW: 1899 is Netflix's latest attempt to recapture the magic mystery of Lost

Prepare to be creeped out and scratch your head in confusion simultaneously....

Has a mystery-box show ever successfully captured our united imaginations the way that Lost did when it kicked off way back in 2004?


The central idea of a mysterious-but-threatening situation filled with characters who all seem to be hiding secrets and/or connections to each other has been repeated to various levels of success, with recent entries like La Brea and Manifest proving popular if not exactly high-brow.

The closest comparison is probably Severance; rarely has a series inspired such levels of Twitter debates.

But now Netflix are taking another swing at the mystery-box genre with 1899, which comes from the same co-creators as Dark, a three-season German-language sci-fi thriller that we're surprised hasn't been adapted into English yet.

Taking place in the titular year, we're on board a steamship from London to New York, filled with a large and varied group of migrants. Mid-way across the Atlantic, they begin to receive a message from the Prometheus, another ship that vanished without a trace four months earlier.


Changing course to intercept, a select few board the Prometheus to find it in total disarray, and without any passengers - living or dead - to be found, except for one small boy, who is tightly holding on to a weird, black pyramid.

Deciding to tow the Prometheus back to London, it isn't long before some very odd things begin happening on board their own ship...

As is always the case, the mystery is what hooks you in, but it is our interest in the characters that will decide if we continue to watch or bail early.


Netflix provided the first three episodes of the series for review, and while the core mystery is a good one - what happened on board that ghost ship? - it is then piled on by each character having their own mysteries for us to slowly unravel, too.

The show's ostensible leads are Maura (Emily Beecham) and Eyk (Andreas Pietschmann); she's a doctor looking for her missing brother who might have been on board the Prometheus, and he's the captain of the migrant ship, dealing with the tragic loss of his entire family in a house fire.

Then we also get Daniel (Aneurin Barnard), Maura's creepy neighbour on the boat; Angel (Miguel Bernardeau), a rich ne'er do well with compulsion issues; Olek (Maciej Musiał), one of the coal-shovelers in the ship's bowels that takes a liking to a passenger; Virginia (Rosalie Craig), a powerful socialite with some links to a side hustle on the boat; and on and on and on that passenger list goes.

Presented in no less than EIGHT languages - English, Spanish, French, Polish, German, Danish, Portuguese and Cantonese - to represent the very international characters, there is initially an overwhelming sense of too much stuff happening all at once, and it is difficult to ascertain which parts of it we should be paying more attention to, and which parts are just... creepy of their own accord.


Those first three episodes do a great job of nailing the oppressive mood of impending dread, all ably assisted by universally great performances, and the prescribed visuals and score giving it all an eerie sense of otherness.

And while those mystery hooks have successfully gotten under our skin within those first three episodes, there is a sense that it could come undone quite easily if 1899 doesn't, much like the boat everyone's on, start picking up steam.

1899 launches on Netflix on Thursday, 17 November.