‘The Rain’ is Denmark’s answer to ‘The Walking Dead’ – why you should be watching the zombies-with-subtitles epic

It's on Netflix now

While water is usually seen as the source of life on this planet, Netflix thriller The Rain has decided to give that concept a terrifying new spin. Set in post-apocalyptic Denmark, this is the debut collaboration between the Scandinavian country and the streaming giant. It follows two young siblings (Simone and Rasmus) who embark on a perilous quest for safety when a rain-borne virus wipes out half the population. It’s gripping, moving and comes with a worthwhile message: time to stop fucking up the planet, guys!

If you like The Walking Dead then we’ve got some good news. The Rain‘s plot mostly revolves around a rag-tag band of gun-toting good guys set against some creepy government types and a few of brain-munching zombies. You’re gonna love it.

We met stars Alba August, Lucas Lyngaard Tønnesen and Mikel Boe Følsgaard, plus creators Jannik Tai Mosholt and Christian Potalivo, to steal a few on-set secrets.

Filming in the bunker was hell

“We had this great idea that we wanted to spend a few days down in the bunker to get acclimatised,” explains Lucas Lyngaard Tønnesen, who plays grumpy teen Rasmus. “But we’re glad we didn’t, because by the end of three months shooting down there we were sick and tired of it.”

The Hunger Games inspired the script

The Rain has a strong YA vibe running through it, so it’s no surprise that the writers drew from Katniss Everdeen for their own protagonist. “We talked about The Hunger Games a lot, The Road and Lord Of The Flies too,” says co-creator Jannik Tai Mosholt. “We wanted to move out of our Scandinavian comfort zone which is always really grey and depressive. So we created a story where the world appears to have gone under but there’s also lots of hope because nature has taken over.”

The cast prepared with a 24-hour survival test

How do you get into the mindset of a rebel soldier on the run from zombies and the law? Go on a woodland camping expedition of course! “We went on a survival trip for 24 hours with two military guys,” reveals Mikel Boe Følsgaard, who plays alpha male Martin. “It was hard. They took us into the Danish forest and we had to learn how to make fire, pick up water from leaves and navigate in the forest without our phones. We didn’t have anything to eat or drink either. Me and the girl who plays Beatrice were starving after 40 minutes! I wouldn’t have lasted if I was on my own.”

Tønnesen was cast straight out of high school

Lucas Lyngaard Tønnesen was only 17 when Netflix came calling. He auditioned “for four months” and “had never had a leading role in a show”. But he got the part anyway because of his chemistry with co-star Alba August, who plays his fiercely protective on-screen sister Simone. “We only did one audition together,” says Tønnesen. “I completely felt a connection and since then we’ve become like brother and sister.”

The death sequence wasn’t improvised

This series is called The Rain for a reason — it’s a bad idea to be caught out in it. Get trapped in a sudden downpour and your body will start to convulse wildly before you’re turned into a flesh-eating creeper. Interestingly, the pre-zombie flailing wasn’t improvised by the actors. “There was a dancer who choreographed it,” reveals Følsgaard. “He explained which muscles were hit and he filmed the moves. Then everyone who died in the series had to watch it and learned how to do it for the camera.” Wondering who had to learn the routine? You’ll just have to watch and find out.

The producers think this could actually happen

These days, some post-apocalyptic scenarios can seem less terrifying than reality. Showrunners Jannik Tai Mosholt and Christian Potalivo wanted to tap into the new climate: “Everyday the news gets worse and it feels like we’re getting closer to when something like this might actually happen,” says Mosholt. “We had a journalist from Cape Town telling us there’s no water there now and we live in Denmark where it seems to rain more and more and we don’t have the snow that we used to. So we can feel [the effects of climate change] starting to happen already.”

Teen Rasmus never met kid Rasmus

For the first episode, Rasmus is a four-year-old nipper struggling to cope with what’s going on around him. After episode two’s time-hop, we see him as an angst-ridden teen, played by Tønnesen. But how did he tie the strands of the two versions together? “I asked if I could meet Bertil, who is the young Rasmus, but we didn’t have time,” says Tønnesen. “I think that it actually worked out really well though because I watched some of his footage to get a feeling of who he was going to become. Bertil is so talented and he really nailed the innocence of the character.”

Stream The Rain on Netflix now