“Valhalla Murders”—The House of the Dead
Kudos to Netflix for another great Nordic noir production. In this eight-episode series, Netflix’s first Icelandic co-production, we have a crime thriller about a gruesome serial killer whose murders go back over thirty-five years. Valhalla Murders is actually based upon a series of murders that took place in Reykjavik. There is some uneven pacing, but it is over shadowed by the unexpected twists and turns of this Nordic murder mystery.
In the opening scene the main character, Detective Kata, is severely wounded and on the verge of death. Immediately Valhalla Murders flashes back to twelve days earlier: to the first of a series of brutal murders at a harbor in Reykjavik. Kata should be in charge, but her boss Magnus purposefully overlooks her. Resentment festers. Magnus calls upon a Norwegian police officer, Arnar, to come back from Oslo to his native Iceland to assist with the investigation. Kata begrudgingly works with Arnar on Iceland’s first-ever serial murder case. The Norwegian police officer’s painful past growing up in Iceland parallels Kata’s painful relationships with her son, ex-husband, and Magnus.
However, the shocking events of the murders bring the two deeply flawed characters closer together as the investigation unearths sordid secrets and horrors from decades ago. The deeper they delve into the murders, the more Kata and Arnar respect each other’s investigative skills and relentless commitment to finding the murderer.
The past connection with a state-run boys’ school, Valhalla, importantly leads to controversy and coverup. As the name Valhalla implies, it is the hall for the heroic dead, the residence of the Nordic god of war and death, Odin. But was Valhalla’s home for boys, now closed, ever a safe haven for young boys?
As the mystery deepens, we see how Kata and Arnar resist the twists and turns thrown at them by those obstructing justice. On fearlessly delving into the horrifying past, which links the murders to each other, the two detectives reveal the truth. They both persevere despite the cost of unearthing unspeakable evil, the monster in the dark.
Note: Netflix released Valhalla Murders on March 13, 2020 with all eight episodes streaming together.