Lately, I’ve grown more and more fond of these Netflix mini-series, with six or eight episodes. I like how they take more time to tell the story than a movie would (with the series lasting about six hours total, whereas movies last only about two hours) so we get to explore the characters and their history more, and we get to know them better. I previously reviewed Manhunt: Unabomber, another eight-part TV series by Netflix, and since I really liked that one, I wanted to give The Frozen Dead a shot, since it seemed similar in tone and topic.
The Frozen Dead, or Glacé as it’s originally called, is a French TV Series that is set mostly in the French Pyrenees, a setting that works wonderfully here. In fact, I would go as far as to say the setting is the most interesting part about the entire series. We get beautiful shots of the mountains, we get a psychiatric center set in total isolation from the rest of the world. As a viewer, you instantly get a sense of isolation, of being abandoned, of being alone, of being lost.
The series opens with main character Martin Servaz, a grizzled old detective who carries a heavy burden of guilt, being brought on a case involving a flayed and headless horse. While this wouldn’t be my preferred case either (and Martin apparently is haunting down a murderer back in Toulouse), he’s apparently been brought on the case because the horse is worth 600 00 euros. Martin makes it clear to his supervisor he would rather be anywhere but here, but gets to work anyway, teaming up with Irene Ziegler, a local policewoman.
We’re also introduced to our second main character, Diane Berg, a psychiatrist working in the local mental hospital, which is totally isolated from the rest of the world. From the get-go, it’s obvious something is up with Berg. For example, why does she want to get into building A so badly? And why is she so dead set on treating Hirtmann, a patient who was locked up there for murdering six girls.
As the story unfolds, and the Martin-Hirtmann-Berg connection becomes clear, the suspension rises, and soon enough, a cat-and-mouse-chase begins, during which it’s far from clear who is the cat and who is the mouse…
Yet, despite the stellar cast and beautiful scenery, the show is missing something. It’s just not thrilling enough. There are too many clichés, too many subplots that are easily to uncover for viewers who often watch this type of show. Every surprise the show throws in, I already saw coming, and while it’s still entertaining, it doesn’t knock you off your seat. Hirtmann is a psychopath for sure, but he’s not scary or creepy, not in the way you expect from a serial murderer: not in the way Hannibal is, or Norman Bates, or heck, even Dexter.
If you don’t go in expecting too much, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. It isn’t the best out there, but definitely not the worst either, and for crime TV fans, it’s a good choice.