Netflix has been churning out intriguing series in recent months, and the Danish crime thriller ‘The Chestnut Man’ is the latest from the streamer’s vault.
The desolate beauty and the macabre attraction of Nordic Noir is nothing new to long-time fans of crime drama thrillers, especially those coming out of Denmark hence why the latest arrival is a pretty big deal amongst the fandom. The show is a six-episode miniseries running 50 minutes apiece, which premiered on streaming on September 29. ‘The Chestnut Man’ is co-directed by Kasper Barfoed and Mikkel Serup and is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name from award-winning writer Søren Sveistrup. The author himself, the same genius behind another intriguing crime thriller, ‘The Killing’, took the privilege of adopting the tome and worked in collaboration with Dorte W. Høgh.
This gripping tale is pretty gory, packed with lots of blood, dead bodies, missing body parts, and sinister children’s sculptures. However, it ticks all the necessary boxes when it comes to defining a great thriller. The characters are rich, the plot is solid, the visuals are absolutely stunning, and the pace is not too slow or fast which works magic for the film as audiences stay engaged, interested, and entertained.
This series marks the third title that the streaming giant has scored content out of Denmark. Interestingly the main characters in this show were also the leads in the other two productions that already premiered on Netflix. There is ‘The Rain’ that starred Mikkel Boe Folgaard and ‘Equinox’ with Danica Curcic in the leading role. In ‘The Chestnut Man,’ the duo embodies Naia and Mark, lead detectives who must team up to crack a case. Other key casts include David Dencik, Lars Ranthe, Esben Dalgaard Andersen, Morten Brown Jørgensen, Thomas Hwan, Signe Egholm Olsen, Jens Jørn Spottag, Camilla Lau, Peder Thomas Pedersen, and more, with a disturbing antagonist commanding the center of the show’s premise.
Danish films are known for their dark color pallets, as they mainly feature blue and grey tones in their visuals. However, ‘The Chestnut Man’ is a complete diversion from this tradition as it boasts vibrant cinematography enriched by the breathtaking hues of fall in Denmark, which gives the program its own visual style. The locations and the sceneries are a sight to behold and were it not for the numerous blood sputters, the dead and injured bodies scattered around on the scenes, this show could easily pass for a virtual tourism advertisement. The murders are as grim as can get, still within the guidelines of the cinema of course; however, they are convincingly believable.
The plot is pretty solid right from the opening scene. The crime scenes are gruesome, and the mystery super tight. The show stays moderately paced throughout the entire six parts of the miniseries. The show is set in the quiet suburban settlement of Copenhagen and lays bare the bone-chilling work of a heartless maniac.
The police come across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered in a playground. One of her hands is missing, and the only other thing on the crime scene is the killer’s calling card, which is a miniature man doll built from chestnuts and matchsticks or twigs to resemble hanging overhead. The detectives called on-site are Naia Thulin, played by Danica Curcic. Naia is a zealous and frazzled homicide detective who is also a single mother. Despite the exhaustion from her day job, she is determined to solve the murder and bring the person responsible for the heinous atrocity to book before another victim turns up in her backyard.
In order to achieve her goal, Naia must team up with an enigmatic new partner named Mark Hess, a role by Mikkel Boe Folsgaard. The duo has trust issues in their first days working together; however, they warm up to each other when they realize they could be hunting for the same killer. Mark is an Interpol cop reassigned from the headquarters and sent to the Copenhagen area to investigate the gruesome murder of another girl, a job he reluctantly accepted.
The curious duo soon unearths a mysterious piece of evidence that connects the killing of the new girl to the homicide case. Mark is in town to investigate the death of a politician’s daughter Rosa Hartung a part by Iben Dorner, who was slain in cold blood and her body left in the same fashion the previous year. The modus operandi plus another key evidence provided by Kristen offers a massive clue as it becomes clear as day that these two cases are definitely connected, and even though the first one was already ruled out as murder, fans know that this investigation is far from over.
Right from the first episode, the show does an excellent job of creating the big mystery fundamentals and manages to keep it alive through the six episodes. The ending of each episode is a definite cliffhanger making viewers keep going in the hopes that a little more details about the deadly perpetrator are revealed.
As the narrative advances, more bodies bearing the Chestnut Man signature continue to pile up as the mystery surrounding who the manslayer is and what his or her intentions are, linger endlessly in the minds of audiences. When the first investigation starts, Kristine’s fingerprints are lifted from the crime scene, and while she is a suspect one can’t help to wonder how the prints got there.
In general, all the characters perform incredibly well, especially Naia and Mark, who develop undeniable chemistry. They wittingly bounce ideas off each other, making it enjoyable to watch them do what they do best. Hess, to some extend, exudes some Sherlock Holmes vibes. A worthy mention would be where he beats up a dead pig in the morgue.
‘The Chestnut Man’ exposes the difficult issues that need to be discussed and society’s nasty things and actions. One can’t help to wonder whether the crimes are an act of a vigilante or simply a very disturbed person whose issues run pretty deep,
‘The Chestnut Man’ is well done with exciting scenes that will keep viewers at the edge of their seats. There are adequate twists and turns as well as surprising moments that make it an irresistible binge-worthy proposition.