“Keep Calm” or “Into the Woods”? “Two completely different series”

  • After “Deep in the Forest”, another Polish series according to Harlan Coben makes its debut on the Netflix platform
  • They are two completely different series, although based on the work of the same scriptwriter and with the participation of almost the same main team.
  • Unlike the Polish title, in the case of “Keep calm” we are dealing with a hard drive without handlebars
  • This series is not only an intriguing crime story, but also a social commentary – about child-parent relationships, mutual trust, overprotection
  • While “In the depths of the forest” has a perfectly drawn ending and captures Polish realities well, “Keep calm” is dynamic and tense, but also flimsy fight scenes and follows the American side too forcefully.
  • You can find more such articles on the Onet homepage

The six-part series “In the Deep of the Forest,” which debuted on Netflix in June 2020, is a story written for two time planes. One takes place today, the other in the mid-1990s. Paweł Kopiński, the Warsaw prosecutor, still cannot cope with the demons of the past – four participants disappeared at the summer camp where he worked as guardian. Two of them were found dead in the forest, the other two – including the main character’s sister – disappeared like a stone in water. The police’s unexpected discovery after 25 years sheds new light on the case. Turns out Gosia Kopińska may still be alive. However, to know the truth, one must first establish what exactly happened in this camp.

The production directed by Leszek Dawid (“You Are God”) and Bartosz Konopka (“Fear of Heights”, “Rabbit a la Berlin”) has a slow pace. Yes, this story is captivating, and the sequence of the last episode, in which we finally discover what happened next in the forest, is watched from the edge of the armchair; The main advantage of the series, however, is not to maintain constant suspense, but the unique and dark atmosphere. The forest shown in flashbacks, even though innocent teenagers are playing there, can arouse terror – it’s almost a hypnotic place, perfect for hiding secrets. Contemporary Warsaw appears as a cold, even soulless metropolis, where everyone seems to have something on their conscience.

I have to admit that the two timelines (and maybe two different worlds) interpenetrate perfectly. The creators managed to smoothly transition from set to set, but it’s still a calm and balanced narrative. In “Deep in the Forest”, the atmosphere and the characters are in the foreground, which the viewer may know well – soft twists and brutality. Instead of dynamic, we become mute. The heroes are shown in close-ups, the plot often stops and gives way to contemplation. The scenes recorded in slow motion, stylized as a dream or dream, are not meaningless here. However, this may be too boring for some viewers. If anyone is expecting a thriller, this is probably not the direction.

“Keep Calm” is a completely different story. Unlike the Polish title, we are dealing with a hard and unrestrained race. The action speeds up towards the end of the first episode and only slows down at the epilogue. The multitude of characters and plots that seemingly have nothing to do with each other make it necessary to be careful in front of the television – just a moment to miss something that can lead us to the explanation of the mystery. Although this story takes place in just a few days, there is a lot going on here. We feel the tension intensified by the fast editing and the rather unusual electronic music of Smolik. Even in this respect you can immediately see (or rather hear) how much this series differs from “Deep in the Forest” – there Łukasz Targosz offered a setting based on the sounds of the piano, soft, almost meditative .

Anna and Michał are the parents of Adam’s high school student. After the death of their friend, their son starts behaving very strangely and his mother decides to install spyware on his phone. It then appears that Adam is blaming himself for the recent tragedy. Then he disappears. The police don’t treat this as a priority – after all, the boy is 18 and he was probably fed up with the old ones. Moreover, they do not have much time to deal with such trifles – everything indicates that a murderer is on the prowl. However, Anna senses that something is wrong with her son. He tries to learn anything from his friends or girlfriends, but they remain stubbornly silent. It is clear that these young people are hiding something. While in “Deep in the Forest” there was a conspiracy of silence among the adults, here they are actually pulling the strings of the children.

Harlan Coben told in one of the interviews that the idea for “Keep Calm” came to him after having dinner with friends who had just installed the so-called “spy”. The series is not only an intriguing crime story, but also a social commentary – about child-parent relationships, mutual trust, overprotection… Are such practices a violation of freedom, or maybe a proof of love and attention? As this production suggests, parents can do a lot for their children. Who knows where the upper limit is – and if it just doesn’t exist?

‘Keep Calm’ is a completely different proposition to ‘In the Woods’ – we have a higher pacing and a network of connections between the characters so dense that it would be impossible to pin anyone else down. Here, even the smallest thread is important. On the other hand, the set seems a little sterile. It is possible that this is due to the transfer of the presented world from the United States to our country almost one by one. While in the previous Polish series, based on the works of Coben, the content was perfectly translated into Polish reality (both modern and 90s), the creators took it easy in “Keep calm”. It’s actually an American production shot in Poland and in Polish. Although the heroes are a privileged upper class, wealthy people and living in an amazing estate called Beverly Hills in Warsaw, it’s impossible to resist feeling that this vision is a bit contrived. Even most high school students – as seen on American television – look about 25 years old and act and dress like jaded adults.

Foreign viewers also complain that the series is not engaging, as none of the characters evoke fully positive feelings. While I would definitely place Adam’s parents in that category, there’s something to that. Moreover, before his disappearance, the boy is looked at so little (and if indeed he is presented rather unfavorably) that it is difficult to worry so much about his fate.

It’s a shame that Krzysztof Oleksyn, who plays Adam, has a ton of charisma. He looks a bit like James Dean, and it’s not just his looks, but the aura he creates – he always shows anxiety and vibes, he plays intensely and a bit wildly. I hope his career will go as well as in the case of Hubert Miłkowski, who played the younger version of Paweł from “In the Depths of the Forest” – not two years have passed since the premiere, and he has already starred in the series “Pajęczyna” and “Kruk” “and the well-received film” Hyacinth “.

The cast does a good job on both counts. Magdalena Boczarska and Leszek Lichota present with realism the different approaches of parents to the disappearance of a child, and Agnieszka Grochowska and Grzegorz Damięcki from “Deep in the forest” evoke emotions of adults tormented by the trauma of there years old. Interestingly, the latter also appeared in “Keep calm”. It turns out that the two series share the same “universe” – will we see another part of this Warsaw saga? This is not yet known.

These are two completely different series, although based on the work of the same screenwriter and with the participation of almost the same main team (one of the directors, Leszek Dawid, was replaced in the new project by Michał Gazda). I know that I will come back to “At the bottom of the forest” – this atmosphere seduced me, moreover I will be happy to retrace if all the blocks of this story really go to the right places. “Keep calm” is more of a one-time entertainment, a series with less ambition, but which is hard to get rid of. This action is so dynamic and so addictive that we want to move on to the next episode as soon as possible – fortunately on Netflix it is possible. If you had to wait for the next weekly installments, you would get quite frustrated.

If you haven’t planned a picnic and want to spend that time catching up on a streak, “Keep Calm” will be perfect – if you’ve already dropped it off, you’ll spend the next five hours there. “Deep in the Forest” is a proposition for those who don’t mind going slow, like to soak up the atmosphere on screen, and for those who miss the hits of the 90s.

Deep in the forest”

  • dark and haunting atmosphere (photos!)
  • casting with Agnieszka Grochowska, Hubert Miłkowski and Grzegorz Damięcki at the helm
  • realistic transfer of Coben’s book into Polish reality
  • a perfectly filmed finale
  • successful soundtrack (including Hey, Maanam)
  • slow pace
  • some unexplained threads
  • the story isn’t as engaging as it should be

Keep calm”

  • dynamic (quick edit, electronic music)
  • a story that holds in suspense and condemns to binge-watching
  • the greats Magdalena Boczarska and Leszek Lichota as parents; Adam Krzysztof Oleksyn as Polish James Dean
  • a social commentary on the parent-child relationship
  • even better soundtrack (GrubSon, Coals, good use of “Jungle Girl” by Young Leosi and Żabson)
  • American series in Polish
  • it’s hard to worry about the fate of some heroes
  • unconvincing scenes of battles with Boczarska
  • no specific climate, “sterility”

Leave a Comment