THE SITE FOR DIE HARD CRIME & THRILLER FANS
Features

Monster: Norwegian crime show brings bleak perfection to Channel 4

2 Mins read
Monster Norwegian crime show

Ominous mists roll across a treeless wasteland. The unnerving growl of an untrustworthy dog. A young woman’s bare feet on the tarmac. A meth head stands in his underwear, flipping the bird to a police helicopter. And Norwegian dialogue subbed into English.

If it’s a weird and creepy atmosphere you’re after, then your fortunes are looking up in 2021. On Monday 4 January at 11pm, Channel 4 will begin airing the Norwegian crime drama Monster, and UK viewers won’t have seen a crime show this good in a long time. It’s strange. It’s haunting. It’s disorientating. In short: Nordic noir as it should be.

Monster Norwegian crime show

Hedda Hersough (above) is the principal character, convincingly played by Ingvild Holthe Bygdnes. She’s a young police officer who has transferred back to her home town way up above the tree line in Arctic Norway, near the Russian border. That’s how far she’s willing to go in order to escape a suffocating relationship back on Oslo.

All is not well in this wind-battered town. Another young woman, Tyra Lind, has gone missing. A day or two later, her boyfriend stumbles into the laundry room at the local motel and collapses dead on the floor. He’s been stabbed in the neck. Nobody saw the stabbing, no weapon has been found, and the two cases are a massive headache for soon-to-retire detective Ed Arvola (Bjorn Sundquist). He assigns Hedda to investigative duties, even though she only has a couple of months’ experience in serious crime.

Monster Norwegian crime show
Joel Dreyer likes pills.

Hedda has barely started investigating when the feds arrive to knock her confidence. Thomas Jacobi (Lars Arentz-Hansen) is originally from the area and seems all right at first, but his younger partner Joel Dreyer (Jakob Oftebro) is rude and arrogant, treating Hedda as his chauffeur.

Questioning people is an uphill struggle for Hedda and Joel and we soon find out what the latter is like when he resorts to twisting the arm of one of Tyra’s friends – literally. The stabbing victim’s grandfather, with his huge, watery eyes, will only utter taciturn responses when Hedda goes to see him. The members of the quaking sect that Tyra’s family belong to are even less helpful, and try to shield Tyra’s mother from the police.

Monster Norwegian crime show
Victim Tyra Lind was fascinated by death.

Then, the body is discovered. Naked, lying on a bed of animal skins in a shallow pit filled with clear water, Tyra’s corpse looks peaceful in every way – apart from the look of horror on her face. Has she gazed into the eyes of a monster? Stakes around the grave hold a web of string above the body, making it look like a ritual killing. As the police gape at the scene, a small snake swims out of the girl’s mouth…

The horrific nature of the murders becomes slightly more understandable as the troubling back stories of the people in this desperate town begin to unravel. Women have vanished here before, and nobody’s been able to solve these old cases. Meanwhile, the matriarch of a local family running a meth lab is trying to hide the operation from the police.

Monster Norwegian crime show

Despite its complex plot, Monster survives on minimal dialogue, with skilled director Anne Sewitsky preferring a show-don’t-tell approach. This brings the show’s beautifully maudlin cinematography to the fore, full of grim skies, desolate roads that lead to nowhere, and gorgeously textured, ill-lit indoor settings. Everything here is unnerving and ominous, making you feel certain that any smile you see will be trumped by future sorrow. We haven’t seen anything so impactful since the BBC’s Welsh crime show Hinterland. Also see Jo Nesbo’s novel Midnight Sun.

The seven episodes comprising this series will be available from 1 January on Channel 4’s foreign crime streaming service Walter Presents. It has previously been available on Amazon Prime, and originally aired in Norway in 2017.

Related posts
KindlePrintReviews

Silenced by Solveig Palsdottir

Translated by Quentin Bates — Corylus Books was set up a year or two ago with the aim of publishing crime novels that might not normally make it into English translation, and Silenced by Solveig Palsdottir is the company’s third release, following Solveig’s earlier novel…
Features

The Hunter – Italian crime show comes to Walter Presents

Some crime shows give you a clever mystery to solve, involving interesting characters. Others take you away to an unusual, atmospheric location where, perhaps, things aren’t quite as they seem. Then there’s the kind that drop you into a situation that’s almost too difficult to…
KindlePrintReviews

Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth

When Bad Penny Blues was published in 2009, it became a cult classic, the kind of novel other writers refer to as a landmark. If you’ve not yet discovered it this new edition, with an introduction by Greil Marcus and insightful afterword by the author,…

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Crime Fiction Lover