The Valhalla Murders is the first Icelandic series on Netflix. The show streamed on December 26, 2019, is inspired by real events in a boy’s reform home named Valhalla.
It sprinkles bits of Icelandic folklore and Norse myth with stunning visuals of the bleak countryside. It manages to transport the viewer to a different setting. Grim, gruesome, and well-paced, it is a great true-crime series to binge right now.
1. Quick Review
Valhalla MurdersAir Date: December 26, 2019 Status: Finished Studio: Truenorth and Mystery Productions, Netflix Sweden No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 8
The Valhalla Murders is a respectable entry in Netflix’s amazing collection of true crime drama and does justice as a delegate of the country of Iceland. The hunt for a serial killer who terrorizes the small quiet town of Reykjavik is on.
Inspired by true events, the series which opens with lead investigator Kata locked in the trunk of a car manages to hook the viewers from the get-go. With fine performances and a balanced script, this is a good watch.
2. Is it Worth Watching?
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Reality is stranger than fiction.’ When reality and fiction blend together, the result is an intriguing crime drama. The Nordic tale is a police procedural investigation into brutal murders that gives an insight into the culture of the Icelandic community, which gets shaken up by gruesome killings.
Thordur Palsson and his brilliant team of writers have used the true story as the foundation for the series. He also directs the first four episodes and takes the viewers on a journey that impacts Reykjavik’s small town. The series first premiered on the RUV channel of the Iceland Broadcasting Service before being picked up by Netflix.
Several people are found murdered in the town of Reykjavik, Iceland, and the police open their investigations. All of them seem random without any connection between them except that this is the work of a serial killer who slashes the victim’s eyes out after murdering them.
As the police dig deeper, they uncover a photograph from a boy’s home named Valhalla, which seems to hold the link to the case. Are all of the victims linked to the abandoned reform home and is the killer one of them too?
The story is based on a similar instance that took place in Iceland in the late 1940s. A State-run institution for troubled young boys between the ages of 7 to 14. Reports surfaced that they were beaten and abused mercilessly by the staff, and the institute was shut down. Although there were no murders, the scandal caused waves in the community. The boys were eventually given monetary compensation, and the matter was swept under the rug.
II. Cast & Performances
Nina Filippusdottir plays Kata, the lead detective working the case. She’s a veteran and has to deal with the frustration of getting passed over for a newcomer’s promotion.
She has problems with her teenage son, who might be involved in some criminal activities himself, and reluctantly agrees to work with Arnar, a specialist called in to handle the case. With so much on her plate, the scenes when she finally blows her top and shows her frustration connect with the viewers.
Bjorn Thors plays Arnar, who has been called in to work the case from Oslo. He is the reluctant son coming back to the past. He tried to escape and has secrets to hide. He comes from a broken family and is not willing to reconcile with his sister during his homecoming.
The small town newscaster Selma (Anna Gunndis) is an old fashioned reporter digging for facts and the truth behind the murders and the police investigation while the police chief Magnus (Sigurour Skulason) plays the veteran who is forced to make decisions which compromise his integrity.
All the actors play their part well and lend to the authentic grim vibe of the drama.
III. Visuals & Music
The unique thing about the show is its setting, like something out of Iceland, enters the mainstream media for the first time. The stunning visuals of the piercing blue skies and the ice-covered mountains as a lonesome car travels down a road are breath-taking.
The town of Reykjavik, with its low buildings, surrounded by harsh rocky exteriors with a palpable criminal underbelly, shows a unique side of the city.
3. Final Thoughts
The Valhalla Murders offers more of the same in a new setting. The first venture out of Iceland in the mainstream media is good and makes a mark.
As a true-crime series, it is written and directed well, and the actors do a fine job. The more amazed you are by the plotline, and the connection you form with the real-life story will decide how much you enjoy watching this series, but it is highly binge-able.