Arrow Films Out 19 December
As well as visiting the set, we’ve also reviewed BBC Four’s festive Nordic Noir.
Perhaps the element most often lacking in Nordic Noir is the one that you might reasonably expect: snow. But that isn’t a complaint which can be levelled at Modus, a chilling series that’s set in an irrefutably icy Sweden over the Christmas period.
Based on Anne Holt’s novel, this snowbound series boasts a smart and very believable main protagonist, Inger Johanne Vik (Melinda Kinnaman), a psychologist and profiler who’s drawn into an investigation – alongside grieving detective Ingvar Nyman (Henrik Norlén) – that soon feels uncomfortably close to home. During a family wedding at a Stockholm hotel, Vik’s autistic daughter, Stina (Esmeralda Struwe), witnesses the aftermath of the murder of a celebrity chef. Petrified, the child wanders off into the street with the cold-eyed killer in pursuit. But what happens next is a dramatic character twist that has you hooked.
Stina’s inability to communicate any details of the bloody scene in the hotel stairwell provides the show’s suspenseful core, though her autism is sensitively portrayed by its writers.
As with The Fall, audaciously, this series also focuses as much on the killer, Richard Forrester (Marek Oravec), as the investigators. Hiding out in a caravan in the woods, where he butchers deer for food and takes icy dips, the mysterious American is a creepy loner who’s on some kind of murderous mission. True, Oravec’s attempt at a Texan accent isn’t the best, but at least the role largely requires him to glare rather than actually speak.
Modus could have been a schlocky serial killer outing – the violence is perhaps a touch gratuitous – but for the series’ wider themes of religion and intolerance. Although the murders in the opening episode grab your attention, there’s a more leisurely introduction to the other characters, including Wallander’s Krister Henriksson, as a haunted man hiding secrets.
This opening series does occasionally sacrifice its brooding style during the clunky, Texas-set scenes, which feel like an awkward attempt to bring international broadcasters on board. But Modus is on stronger ground when it sticks to the frozen Swedish landscape. This claustrophobic mystery is also a probing study of Scandinavian society that possesses many of the qualities of the best Nordic Noir.
After what Stina’s seen, a cuddle is very much required.
Krister Henriksson is back on the snow.