Just in time for the spookiest day of the year, Netflix has dropped Volume 2 of their “Unsolved Mysteries” reboot. This installment features another six chilling cold cases ranging from the strange disappearance of a loving mother to a series of paranormal experiences following a deadly tsunami in Japan. Each episode examines a singular case through recorded evidence, testimonies, interviews and actor reenactments.
With sensitive topics such as family tragedies and mysterious deaths, “Unsolved Mysteries” needed to find a way to handle such material with care. Volume 2 of the series emphasizes the sorrow and sensitivity of the victims and their loved ones without exploiting or exaggerating the scenarios. Almost every episode ends with final words from close family members reminiscing about the victim’s life and how much they meant to them.
The viewers spend ample time learning about the victims at the heart of each episode to get a sense of their impacts on others. The actor reenactments never overstep and are very tame in terms of content. The camera rarely shows the face of the actors involved, adding an ambiguous style to the events playing out on screen. These sequences are merely visual backgrounds to the raw anecdotes delivered by the interview subjects.
The series excels at finding a variety of unsolved mysteries, such as missing persons, murders and ghosts, but only half of the episodes truly feel layered and captivating enough to engage the viewer. Standouts include “Lady in the Lake,” “A Death in Oslo” and “Washington Insider Murder,” which have multiple unique breakthroughs that add to the intrigue of the episodes’ narratives. These episodes are the type to prompt further investigation from fans and spawn internet theories.
While the rest of the episodes are well produced and executed, the cases themselves don’t seem to have, well … an intriguing amount of mystery. “Death Row Fugitive” follows a prison inmate who escapes on an excursion. There aren’t many physical or intriguing leads in this case, so the rest of the episode seems to ruminate on the open-ended nature of the situation.
“Tsunami Spirits” dips its toes into the supernatural, something the original “Unsolved Mystery” was quite well known for. While the exploration of the grief and trauma faced by a community after a tsunami is beautifully done, the episode sticks out like a sore thumb among the others. Consisting mainly of reenactments, “Tsunami Spirits” features no visual evidence to accompany its interviewees’ tales of the supernatural. The stories are very intriguing but lack captivating images, a contrast to the rest of the evidence-heavy season.
Compared to Volume 1 of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries,” Volume 2 lacks in the complex mystery department. While about half of the installments are compelling, the rest feel limited in content and simpler in comparison. Despite the inconsistent intrigue of each mystery, the show is thankfully still able to educate audience members on current manhunts and unanswered cases in the hopes that people will come forward with additional information.
“Unsolved Mysteries” Volume 2 is entertaining and informative but doesn’t quite meet the standard set by previous entries in the series.
3 out of 5 stars