It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: their child goes missing with no clue to their whereabouts or what’s become of them.
While the death of a loved one is terrible, at least there’s some finality that allows the grieving process to begin. But if a child vanishes there’s no resolution, no way to mourn, leaving the parents in limbo.
This is the existential horror facing the parents in three new series debuting at SBS On Demand.
An illegal dance party held in the catacombs below Munich’s Central Railway Station is the catalyst for a sequence of events that traumatically change the lives of many in the German-language thriller Echos.
A group of hedonistic, privileged 20-somethings – including Nellie (Lilly Dreesen) and her best friend Janosch (Yasin Boynuince) – get wind of the rave and turn up, excited for the fun, drug-fuelled night ahead. But the evening goes awry when a fire breaks out, causing mass panic as hundreds of partygoers flee from the smoke choking the tunnels.
After the chaos has settled down and the injured carted off to hospital, it’s discovered that three people are still missing, including Nellie’s brother Max (Nick Romeo Reimann). It takes a darker turn when a body is discovered in the river the next day.
The repercussions are felt everywhere, affecting everyone from Max’s distraught mother, government MP Anna Mahler (Aglaia Szyszkowitz) to the “Invisibles” – the homeless community living in the catacombs – to the developers teetering on bankruptcy after the fire halts construction work on their apartment building.
Meanwhile, Nellie and Janosch must make a deal with the Invisibles’ leader Tyler (Mercedes Müller) in their desperate search for Max, who they believe is still lost in the catacombs. But Tyler has a secret that may put Nellie and Janosch in grave danger.
The inspiration for Echos came when producer and co-writer Florian Kamhuber read about the tunnels below Munich.
“Underneath the very centre of the city there are these catacombs where drug dealers, hookers and all sorts of people dwell,” he tells Variety. “That really intrigued me – it was so typical for a city like Munich to be perfect on the outside and less so on the inside.”
Echos started production in January 2020 but was closed down after less than a month due to COVID restrictions. Filming resumed in July – the middle of the northern summer – which proved a problem as the series is set in winter. To get around it, the FX team used fire hoses to simulate rain, plus plenty of artificial snow. The end result is stunning, but don’t be fooled by the winter wonderland look. This complex series is as dark as the tunnels that lie beneath Munich.
Echos premieres exclusively in Australia and is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
The Spanish-language Paraiso may be a supernatural thriller, but it has its roots in a real crime that shocked Spain. On 13 November 1992, three teenage girls, later dubbed The Alcàsser Girls by the media, were kidnapped and murdered while hitchhiking from Alcàsser, Valencia to a nightclub in a nearby town.
The series is also set in 1992 in a small, nothing-happening seaside town in Spain, a few months after three teenagers vanished mysteriously while at the Paraiso nightclub. It turns out this is not the first time groups of kids have disappeared in the area, but the local police are unable (or unwilling) to find out what happened to them.
Teenager Javi (Pau Gimeno) is struggling to cope with the loss of his beloved sister Sandra (Júlia Frigola), as well as a distant father and a school bully who knows how to push Javi’s buttons.
After finding a clue linked to his sister, Javi is determined to investigate the now abandoned nightclub with his group of misfit friends. But their investigation takes a bizarre turn once they are deep within the bowels of Paraiso. Adding to the general weirdness are a flock of suicidal seagulls and the arrival in town of the sinister Lieutenant Zhou (Yoon C. Joyce) to take over the investigation.
If you’re into early 90s nostalgia and that creepy Stranger Things vibe, then Paraiso could well be your cup of sangria.
Paraiso premieres exclusively in Australia and is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
In The Promise, an 11-year-old girl vanishes on Boxing Day 1999 in the Landes region in south-west France. Police captain Pierre Castaing (Olivier Marchal) heads the search for missing Charlotte Meyer, but his inability to find the girl makes him an outcast in the local community and eventually destroys his family.
Twenty years later, Castaing’s daughter Sarah (Sofia Essaïdi), now a police chief herself, leads another missing child investigation that could be connected to the 1999 case. She must confront a cunning predator and her own teenage trauma while attempting to solve both cases and heal her fractured relationship with her dad.
The French-language crime show was a huge success when it screened in its homeland in January, averaging eight million viewers for the six-part series.
The Promise premieres exclusively in Australia and is now streaming at SBS On Demand.