“Zmijowisko” – Family Mysteries [Review]

Zmijowisko series


Title: “Zmijowisko”

Release Date: 2019

Cast: Paweł Domagała, Agnieszka Żulewska, Piotr Stramowski, Davina Reeves-Ciara


The series “Zmijowisko” from CANAL+ is well-watched and even enjoyable, even though the theme of a teenage girl going missing during a family summer trip does not inspire optimism. The picturesque Masurian landscapes and the atmosphere of a carefree vacation by the lake is especially appealing to those who have a fondness for Polish views. However, this idyllic scenery also becomes a space for a return to nature, and thus to deeply hidden instincts. Long-built illusions and appearances do not withstand confrontation with the truth, and under the image of a happy family may hide a dark secret.

“Zmijowisko” – on a family camping trip

Shot on the basis of the novel by Wojciech Chmielarz, the series “Zmijowisko” vividly outlines the presented world and characters from the first scenes. Several long-time acquaintances decide to go on a vacation together at a lake. Here we have a whole gallery of diverse characters: Kamila and Paul go with their two children: teenage Ada and their several-year-old son. Robert, a current TV producer, takes his fiancée of exotic beauty, Adaoma, on the trip. Michalina, on the other hand, who is newly divorced from her husband, is coming alone. They all know each other from their student days, and their relationship, as it soon turns out, is quite convoluted. After all, Kamila and Robert were very much in love in the past, and although their relationship fell apart, apparently not all feelings between them have died out.

We get to know the individual events in Lukasz Palkowski’s series from a charming, secluded corner somewhere in the Masurian forests mainly in flashbacks. After all, after a year, Paweł returns to the eponymous agritourism farm called “Zmijowisko” (eng. Adderall) to solve the case of his daughter Ada’s disappearance. As it turns out, the idyllic vacation ended dramatically: the girl disappeared without a trace, leaving her parents helpless and distraught.

Zmijowisko polish series review

The series “Zmijowisko” – criminal investigation with a surprising finale

“Zmijowisko”, however, is not only holiday images of family and friend camping, but, above all, a gripping private investigation of a father who wants to find his daughter at all costs. Despite such set optics, the series only seemingly resembles such Polish productions as “Klangor” or “Raven” The threads constantly become so entangled that it is no longer clear what is truth and what is fiction. “Zmijowisko” is thus closer to “Feedback,” for example. Certainly the principle that the farther into the forest, the more trees comes into play here. Personal motivations are interspersed with business interests, and rational explanations coexist with threads of occult practices.

“Zmijowisko” thus provides the viewer with a whole range of emotions, and it is rather impossible to get bored while watching the series. The vast Mazury region turns out to be a land that is as much paradisiacal as dangerous and dark, which is suggested by the very threatening-sounding name of the agritourism. Above all, they release long-hidden desires in the characters, which are effectively suppressed by the orderly urban space in which they live every day. A great asset of the series is also the interesting conduct of criminal intrigue. Until the very end, everything remains unclear, and the finale is really surprising and worth getting to.

“Zmijowisko” and the constant game of appearances

Zmijowisko 2019 review

The unpredictable ending of “Zmijowisko” remains consistent with the characters presented in the series. This is because all the characters were conceived as a kind of game of appearances. The method of portraying them is narrative and psychological surprise. So it surprises Davina Reeves-Ciara in the role of a beautiful model, who turns out to be one of the most empathetic and at the same time clever characters. We don’t expect that spoiled to the bone celebrity Robert (Piotr Stramowski) can love the same woman for decades. And of course, we are shocked by the role and character of Pawel Domagala.

He is the biggest series firecracker for me – a loving father and husband, at the same time unfairly underestimated and marginalized by his wife and the friends who treat him down. A compulsive casino player who does everything to find his beloved daughter. One step of the protagonist contradicts the previous one, one utterance negates the others, one glance sets in and we no longer know how it really was. And what was it like? This can only be found out in the final episode of the excellent Polish series “Zmijowisko”.