Photo: Scandinavian Shows
Are Scandinavian crime dramas becoming the new trend? Let’s just say Scandinavians just know how to produce psychological thrillers that will leave your eyes glued to your television screens. Thankfully, Netflix is home to some of the best crime thrillers that are perfect for those new to the Nordic Noir genre or veteran crime junkies who are ready to take their guilty pleasures overseas. Over the past couple of years, Scandinavian crime shows have taken over British televisions with Kenneth Brannagh starring in a British show that was based in Sweden, ‘Wallander’. Now, Nordic Noir is extending to North America with series like ‘The Chestnut Man’ that has already hit big with Netflix’s top ten most-watched list. Luckily, we’ve compiled our favorite crime shows that are perfect for introducing viewers to the intense stories that are insanely addictive and beyond imaginative.
These shows will transport you to the beautiful snowy landscapes of Scandinavia: Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. These three series feature unprecedented talent who bring these visceral stories to life and prove that there’s a richly complex world of filmmakers outside the vast borders of Hollywood. Given that winter is approaching, allow the moody and chilly vibes of Nordic Noir to welcome a new season and take a small break from the classic Holiday classics.
1. ‘The Chestnut Man’
The Danish series secured a noticeable spot on Netflix’s top ten most-watched list for weeks. The mini-series is among many Scandinavian shows that are undoubtedly packed with ingredients essential for binge-worthy psychological thrillers. The first episode commands your attention with a gruesome crime scene riddled with unorthodox clues and dramatic intrigue that leads the police and viewers down a rabbit hole of whodunit and who could do something so vicious. Aside from the murders, the series raises issues on foster care, violence against women, childhood trauma, and social privilege.
The serial killer taunts police and the media with figurines made of chestnut left at every crime scene. Alongside the murders, we watch as a female government official is targeted as the series of murders is connected to her daughter’s disappearance months prior. Women are the targeted victims, specifically mothers, whom the killer deems as mothers who put their children at risk. It’s a dark story that captures the extreme measures of poetic justice in the mind of a serial killer. What makes these murders so shocking is the grim nature in which the bodies are left to be discovered. There’s disfigurement and a theatrical presentation in which the killer choreographs the crime scene, which is why it quickly captures the sole attention of the press and police. It’s an intense race to save another victim from a tireless killer who is actively on the hunt.
Alongside the puzzling murders and the heartbreaking stories of families victimized by a ruthless serial killer, the story frequently focuses on the detectives who are aggressively solving the case. We watch as they struggle to separate their personal lives from their professional lives. They become emotionally entangled as the story triggers their need to protect vulnerable women unjustly preyed on by a mysterious killer who thrives in the shadows. The shocking ending is a satisfying conclusion after an emotional and mental journey that makes you believe the answers were in front of your face the entire time. It’s a gripping and exciting journey supported by actors who give stunning performances.
2. ‘The Valhalla Murders’
Based on a troubling true story, ‘The Valhalla Murders’ is an Icelandic fictional retelling of the murders that shook Reykjavik to its core in the 1940s. The cruel abuse and rapes inspire the harrowing story in an institution for displaced and troubled young boys. The series follows two investigators- Katya, a fearless single mother who is recognized as a seasoned detective in the police force whose success results from her passion. Arnar Böðvarsson joins her, a profiler who returns to Iceland from Oslo who unintentionally provides a sense of humanity into the twisted story by detailing the killer’s motivations and predicting his next moves. The series is based on the novel‘Brot,’ which translates to violation. In fact, the television adaptation of the novel captures the eerie sense of violation and assault. The boys in the institution endure years of abuse; there’s a violation of innocence and trust when others learn the horrific stories of abuse.
As in the case of many crime dramas, there’s an indescribable bond that develops between the two investigators who are forced to rely on one another as they continuously probe into humanity’s darkest hours. It’s interesting to see how the nature of their relationship unfolds while they’re racing against the clock to capture an elusive murderer that repeatedly slips between their fingers. Not to mention, the common thread that runs through Nordic Noir is the idyllic backdrops of mountainous ranges covered in undisturbed snow and the constantly changing foliage that effortlessly steals the scene.
The final stop on our Scandinavian tour is in Finland with ‘Deadwind.’ This compelling Finnish thriller follows the relatively young and ambitious detective duo who team up to investigate the murder of Anna Berghdal and the sociopolitical implications surrounding her mysterious disappearance. The story grapples with the violent dangers of obsession, environmentalism, and government influence in terms of capitalism. The series thoroughly reflects on how political and social powers are struggling to navigate the realities of global warming and the collective anxiety that ensues from misinformation and distrust in the powers that be. The series boldly epitomizes how egotism and greed can impede civil progress and development.
The psychological thriller breaks down how social and economic capital provides a safety net for the privileged while the majority are often left unprotected. It’s a captivating narrative that reveals how governmental influence and money are the two driving forces that profoundly impact the environment and the dedication from certain countries who are ready to acknowledge the error in our ways. In all, there’s an intricate web of social issues surrounding the murder of a young woman who fatefully got caught in the middle of a tidal wave of events. ‘Deadwind’ features action, mystery, fractures of marriage, and the enchanting towns of Finland that reside in relative obscurity from foreigners and tourists.
By Gina Michele Yaniz
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Gina Michele Yaniz is a writer and digital media content creator with a deep love for storytelling. Charmed by the notable influence of the entertainment industry, Gina is passionate about uplifting the voices of artists and celebrating powerful material. She likes to embody the philosophy of writing through a non-judgmental and a genuine perspective while expanding the perception of film industry. Along with Hollywood Insider, Gina values the responsibility the media holds and wishes to use her writing to provide meaningful content. During her free time, Gina loves to watch period pieces, stand-up comedy, and indulges on her avid interest for reading articles on self-care.