Streaming services have become a welcome distraction, offering respite from the uncertainty and troubled times we all find ourselves in. It’s become a welcome time to expand our interests in foreign television which offers fresh faces on the screen and a new cultural perspective. Victim Number 8 (available on Netflix in the US) is a riveting eight-episode dramatic thriller from Spain which is likely to captivate American audiences with the same zest it achieved in its country of origin. A twisting plot with intrigue that keeps the audience guessing as to who the true antagonist is, Victim Number 8 is presented on a grand scale in every sense of the word.

Iris Award-Winning (Atv Spain) and nominated for Best TV Show Music at the Spanish Audio Visual Awards (2019), it’s both the sights and sounds of this production that make the story larger than life. Sound Mixer Rodrigo Merolla (known for his work with Oscar Winning Composer Gustavo Santaolalla-of Brokeback Mountain and Babel) was the filter by which the audible personality of Victim Number 8 was juxtaposed against the visuals.

Though he typically finds himself working in unusual locations amongst a documentary production team, Merolla welcomed the opportunity to experience the massive machine that is a major network TV production. He confesses, “I had little experience in thrillers, so it was a great learning experience to be able to shoot with a large team of people, with high standards, doing many shots per day and always at the top of our energy. We were able to do it very well so the result of this series is a moment of great pride in my career.”

During the filming of Victim Number 8
During the filming of Victim Number 8

Victim Number 8 is a pensive story with a catacomb of plot lines. What begins with a romantic moment between Omar and Edurne in the moonlight becomes the tragedy of a terrorist attack occurs. The investigation which follows and seeks to discover who the culprit is leads to paranoia among the main characters and the illumination of secrets long held. A stark aspect of the show is the perpetual motion of the camera, infusing the scenes with a natural sense of anxiety and energy. The rhythm of the entire show is established in its constant action ethos.

During the first episode, Omar Jamal (César Mateo) is kidnapped and taken in a van to the mountains. While on the way, a wild boar causes the vehicle to wreck, killing everyone except Omar and one kidnapper. The chase that ensues between these two overlaps from episode one into episode two. This establishes a pace that will run throughout the series; it’s a pace that kept Rodrigo Merolla in a vigilant state in order to capture the sounds for such action.

He describes, “Scenes like this chase scene required the camouflaging of microphones along the pursuit path because obtaining the panicked breathing of Omar while filming made this scene really come to life. For scenes like the one in which Edurne (María de Nati) arrives at the police station with a new clue about the innocence of her boyfriend Omar, accompanied by the journalist Juan Echevarria (Marcial Álvarez) and they have a conversation as they move towards the office of Koro Olaegui (Veronika Moral), the police girl who is inside talking to Almudena (Lisi Linder), the wife of one of the victims, both conversations take place in parallel.”

“These conversations moved towards each other and at a certain point in the dialogue they were interrupted. Filming this was like doing two scenes in one and it took a long time for the actors to coordinate as well as to understand both scenes in parallels in my headphones. The challenge was technical and choreographic. Having both scenes recorded correctly from all angles was essential so that the editor could be free to edit the scene freely and ensure that everything works.” From the story points to the sound, viewers can expect constant interwoven moments in this series. 

Rodrigo on the set of Victim Number 8
Rodrigo on the set of Victim Number 8

For fans of suspenseful action, Victim Number 8 offers hours of exciting entertainment and something which is fairly new to American Audiences; the absence of any familiar faces. Far from detrimental, this serves the suspension of reality that the story offers exceedingly well. 

Writer: Coleman Haan

By Punit