Ar­row Films Out 19 De­cem­ber

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By AN­DRE PAINE

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.

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