Crossing borders used to be so easy. Although we hear it’s getting a little bit harder these days, it’s generally an activity that’s not quite as extreme as created by the people behind Der Pass. Inspired by scandi hit The Bridge, Der Pass takes us to the German-Austria border high in the Alps, where snow abounds and corpses get dumped.
Those who have seen The Bridge will know the set up – the body found is half on German soil and half on Austrian, meaning there’s a bit of a spat about who gets to investigate the murder. Austrian detective Gedeon Winter (yes really Winter) suggests, “one of us gets the head, one the ass.” Winter teams up with German investigator Ellie Stocker. In every way, they are opposites: he’s a gruff, boozy rule breaker, her a gentle, sensible, by-the-book kind of copper. And off these two misfits go into the snow, to find out whodunit.
Is it as good as its Bridge inspiration? Maybe not. But there’s still lots on offer on Der Pass.
There’s atmosphere aplenty, and a near constant feeling of unease which is made worse (or better, depending on your preference) by a brilliantly unsettling soundtrack. These alongside the beautiful and sometimes daunting setting of the Alps makes for a spine-chilling gothic setting for a crime story set to have you shuddering on your sofa.
The critics had mixed thoughts on this European escapade. The Telegraph’s Jasper Rees enjoyed the “glorious shots of sky-serrating peaks and plunging valleys,” but comments “not quite gripping, Der Pass proves the law of diminishing returns.” And it seems Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian is with him, questioning why producers chose “the dullest border in Europe,” and saying “only the detective who dresses like a pimp and sucks drugged sugar cubes will keep me going.”
Luckily the Financial Times’s Suzi Feay had something (a lot) more positive to say. In fact, she gave it a full five stars, thoroughly enjoying this “antler-strewn mystery.”
First shown February 2019.