Iceland has, in recent years, become something of a perennial favourite for TV and film productions, from HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” to “Prometheus”, “Interstellar” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to name but a few so its high time its native productions got their share of the limelight, and “Trapped” – the ten part murder mystery – is an excellent place to start.
As a winter storm closes in on the small Icelandic port of Seyðisfjörður, the arrival of a Danish ferry coincides with the discovery of a dismembered torso dumped at sea. Cut off from outside help, it’s up to local Police Chief Andri and his two deputies to solve a case. Facing an uncooperative Ferry Captain, the ambitious local politicians who hope to secure Chinese investment to develop the town into a world-class port and the elements themselves and battling the elements themselves, Andri and his team must unravel the mystery before the town’s isolation allows the guilty to escape.
Conceived by Icelandic feature film director Baltasar Kormákur (“2 Guns”, “Everest”) – who also directed the opening and closing episodes – this tense, multi-layered thriller is a superb addition to the burgeoning ‘Nordic Noir’ genre.
The Icelandic scenery provides a stunning and atmospheric backdrop to proceedings, with the looming threat of avalanche adding to the simmering tension. The environment and the drama are both enhanced by an evocative and melancholy score from Jóhann Jóhannsson (“Sicario”) but it’s in the performances that the real power of the drama lies.
Andri (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) provides a gruff yet refreshingly vice free (his tipple of choice a glass of milk) leading man, a rumpled and rotund Icelandic everyman detective doggedly pursuing the truth the despite the blizzards and local politics which swirl around him. Of course, he has a complicated home life and an ex-wife who is visiting with her new boyfriend because there are some tropes you simply can’t shake off when it comes to thrillers. And while many of the basic ingredients of “Trapped” are staples of the detective genre and Nordic Noir in particular, there’s a gripping freshness to the recipe here thanks in part to the bleak and icy spin on the closed circle of suspects plot.
Being subtitled (although there are occasional snatches of English), this is a series which requires your full attention – there’s no scope for idly surfing the internet, or checking Facebook or Twitter. Thankfully, it amply rewards your attention with a compelling series of twists and turns as it builds to its riveting conclusion. You may have missed it on BBC4, but do yourself a favour and ward off the lighter Spring evenings with a prime slice of wintry darkness on DVD.