REVIEW: ‘The Chestnut Man’ Season 1 is a Top Tier Psychological Thriller

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Chestnut Man - But Why Tho

Streaming content is often in demand, and as we in the Northern Hemisphere approach the colder months more, and more eyes are in front of screens to binge their favorite shows on a multitude of platforms. One overlooked accolade is that of the diversity of content on streaming platforms, and in my experience, Netflix continues to remain King of the Mountain in that category. If you’re looking for proof then perhaps you should check out a Spanish movie called Xtreme , or perhaps the French series Lupin, but if you’re looking for something brand new, then you should definitely be looking towards the Danish series The Chestnut Man Season 1.

The Netflix original series is an adaptation from the book series written by Søren Sveistrup. The show is directed by Mikkel Serup, Kasper Barfoed, and the cast includes Danica Curcic (Detective Naia Thulin), Mikkel Boe Følsgaard (Detective Mark Hess), Iben Dorner (Rosa Hartung), Lars Ranthe (Nylander), and Esben Dalgaard Andersen (Steen Hartung). The Chestnut Man follows the events of a promising female detective who’s been saddled with a new partner from Interpol, as they investigate the brutal murder of a Mother, whereupon they find a chestnut man figurine. Soon one murder becomes two, as the hunt for the serial butcher known as the Chestnut Man unfolds.

Wow. I mean, I am totally blown away by this series. Set in the scenic and beautiful surrounding area of Copenhagen, Denmark, it creates the perfect contrast for such a dark and horrific tale. The score was cavernous, a series of terrifying and deep melodic bass notes that adds to the tension of the show. Upon watching the trailer at first it seemed a riveting story, and it absolutely captured those same spine-chilling vibes, but I was pleasantly surprised after bingeing the show that it had so much to deliver.

It’s clear that the Serup, and Barfoed, had a very vision in the story being told, and they knew how to extract a peak amount of tension. As is my experience with horror, it’s what you don’t see that’s most frightening, the suggestion of a presence, the silence that persists, and abject fear of the victims. One element I was surprised could create such fear was the discovering of the Chestnut men themself. The camera work, along with the score, pairs so well together that when you come upon these homemade figurines it heightens the impact and makes these sinister toys appear demonically sentient. Adding in a layer of the occult, as if it weren’t bad enough finding a murdered body.

Again, the score was just fantastically ghastly and using those slow deep string notes, offset with sharp, high almost scratchy ones was a welcomed auditory performance. Every tool in the box was being utilized to cast the tone of the show.

For me, this show checked so many boxes, but it also manages to retain that gripping element of the story, the mystery of it all, which is where the part of the two detectives becomes so key.

Naia, and Hess, played by Curcic, and Følsgaard, are the keystone of the series, the stars of the show. We spend more time with them, then any other character. So if at any point their performances don’t work, or aren’t strong enough to keep our attention, then the whole series falls apart. Thankfully, they both execute their roles to a high caliber, and it shows. Each of them plays a version of the tormented law enforcement officer as expected, tortured souls who’ve seen dark deeds, and who often struggle to maintain the balance of their professional obligations with that of their personal lives. While this is to be expected that it follows a familiar formula, they both sell you on the mystery, they give you a reason to want to route for them.

If the show struggles anywhere, and honestly this is a minor criticism, it’s in the point I just made previously in that it does have a somewhat formulaic feel to it overall. If you’ve watched other shows such as this you’ll know exactly what I mean as I absolutely got vibes of True Detective Season 1 and Broadchurch. Now listen, while yes it follows familiar beats, it also has to work. There’s a reason some formulas are revisited time and time again, and with Chestnut man, they do such a wonderful job of delivering a sublime level of tension, and acting performances that makes this series an utter must-watch.

Overall, The Chestnut Man Season 1 was surprisingly chilling, and yet it was such a delightfully dark binge I couldn’t help but love it. It checks all the right boxes in crafting its suspense, and tension, but at the heart of the show has an enticing mystery that urges you to keep watching. A perfect show to kick off the Halloween season!

The Chestnut Man Season 1 is available exclusively on Netflix.


The Chestnut Man Season 1
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Overall, The Chestnut Man Season 1 was surprisingly chilling, and yet it was such a delightfully dark binge I couldn’t help but love it. It checks all the right boxes in crafting its suspense, and tension, but at the heart of the show has enticing mystery that urges you to keep watching. A perfect show to kick off the Halloween season!