For all the media consumers out there whose choice "Netflix and chill" iteration is of the digital dystopia variety, the streaming platform has just unveiled an eerie new binge-watching prospect — and, so far, it's looking a lot like Black Mirror 2.0. At least, that's the nightmarish vibe radiating off of Netflix's first trailer for Altered Carbon, a relentlessly chilling (albeit socially conscious) science-fiction series based on Richard K. Morgan's bestselling cyberpunk noir novel of the same name. The series will careen into Netflix queues everywhere on Feb. 2, and promises to render its viewers some combination of white-knuckled, queasy, and/or chock-full of existential dread for the duration of its 10-episode run.
The creepy teaser video — which Netflix dropped Monday morning, Dec. 4 — spans just under a minute, but it certainly doesn't waste any time getting its point across. "Centuries ago, mankind discovered a way to transfer consciousness into a new body," the trailer kicks off, with a hair-raisingly monotone narration by some kind of unidentified, omniscient female robot. Imagine if your GPS system gave you a virtual walk-through of a war-riddled futuristic society wherein human consciousness (a.k.a. the essence of a person, what makes them who they are, etc.) can be extracted, deposited, and stored on "digital implants" as a means of achieving some twisted version of immortality. The Altered Carbon trailer is sort of like that.
In classic Black Mirror fashion, the Altered Carbon trailer nails its essence right from the get-go. Much like its broody U.K. counterpart, the upcoming series touts an impossibly sleek, ultramodern aesthetic that manages to scream "sophisticated" and "sinister" all at once. The bizarrely out-of-place, Jeopardy-style jingle undulating beneath the opening narration is also a pretty immediate tip-off that something isn't quite right.
And, just in case there was any lingering confusion about the tenor of Altered Carbon, the trailer stamps it out before the 10 second mark. Cut to: actual, sentient human beings shoved into translucent body bags (really, this trailer is not for the faint of heart), shattered glass, and supremely-manicured semi-humans whose physical forms have been appropriately dubbed "sleeves." Better to not let that one sit with you for too long.
The story centers on Takeshi Kovacs (played by Joel Kinnaman), a former hit-man-turned-revolutionary whose own consciousness was removed and then deposited into a different body after his imprisonment centuries earlier. When he is re-awoken, Kovacs is offered a chance at freedom. Though, of course, it is contingent upon a pretty lofty set of stipulations: per the order of wealthy tycoon Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), Kovac's sentence will be pardoned only if he can uncover the mystery of Bancroft's "murder." (Well, the murder of Bancroft's previous "sleeve," that is.)
And, if the award-winning novel is any indication, Altered Carbon will be serving up a dose of social commentary with its jump scares. Similar to the way in which the ever-pervasive creepiness of Black Mirror helps to nail in its alarmingly sharp socio-political critique of modern technology, so too does the comparably pervasive creepiness of Altered Carbon. Its critique is similarly grim, as it illuminates a theoretical (but nonetheless terrifying) societal divide between those who can afford to live forever, and those who cannot.
Entertainment Weekly just released a handful of first-look images from the upcoming series, and they are equal parts awe-inspiring and spine-tingling (Altered Carbon is Netflix's second-most-expensive show to date, according to Gizmodo, after The Get Down, and it definitely shows).
And, with a pilot shot by Emmy-winning Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik and writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) spearheading the script, Altered Carbon is gearing up for quite an opening.
Black Mirror fans: you've got a new hang-up come February.