A Dish Best Served Cold (Series Review: “The Frozen Dead”)


A gruesome discovery on a snowy peak in the French Pyrenees draws a homicide detective home to face his archnemesis, an imprisoned serial killer at the center of a sweeping avalanche of grisly revenge killings. Bienvenue to Glacé (The Frozen Dead).


SnapShot Plot

As much of the northeastern U.S. is trapped in a deep freeze lock-down with blizzard conditions that seem more like hurricanes, what better way to settle in for a cozy weekend of home entertainment than a six-part crime thriller set in a wintry location that’s even colder and icier than ours? Voila! The Frozen Dead (Glacé) is a twisty French noir series which takes place in the small, picturesque town of Saint-Martin-de-Comminges, where a series of bizarre slaughters and murders takes the revenge plot to alpine heights.

The story begins when grizzled chain-smoking and hard-drinking Detective Martin Servaz (played by respected character actor, Charles Berling) is summoned back from Toulouse to assist Captain Irène Ziegler (Julia Piaton) in the investigation of a bizarre discovery at the top of a cable car in the dead of winter. Given this is not a strict homicide case and also out of his jurisdiction, Martin is confounded as to why he’s been dragged back to a place that only brings back haunting memories. Until it becomes chillingly clear that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that one of the most notorious serial killers of the recent past – an ex-prosecutor who also happened to be a close friend of Martin’s – named Julian Hirtmann (played by Pascal Greggory) is undeniably attached to the crime. The imperious Hirtmann, whose victims were lost and vulnerable young women, is presently serving a life sentence in a top-security psychiatric prison high in the mountains over the town, and the man who put him behind bars is none other than his old friend and colleague, Martin Servaz.

Adding to the intriguing mix of characters is a fresh-faced young psychiatrist with a rage problem and a secret, named Diane Berg (played by Nina Meurisse), who’s just arrived at the hospital from Canada. Her all-encompassing interest is in meeting the infamous Hirtmann, whose uncanny familiarity with her is mirrored by the unsettling first impression she makes on Martin Servaz. And the secrets start piling up, like impenetrable snow drifts, until an avalanche of violent murders begins to form a diabolical jigsaw puzzle of a long-awaited vendetta from the past.




Parting Shot

Based on the French novel of the same name by Bernard Minier (the first in the Commandant Martin Servaz collection), series creators Gérard CarréPascal Chaumeil, and Caroline Van Ruymbeke have successfully blended the book’s core themes with a now archetypal Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal Lecter prototype with the characters of Hirtmann and Diane Berger. But the story extends well beyond their dynamic, delving into the secrets and scandals still hanging over the town and its inhabitants. There may be a few minor plot-holes here and there, as well as an extraneous business with Martin’s personal life (and all those cigarettes) which gets a bit off-track, but all in all this is a very good series, which Netflix may option for a second season in 2019. Its filmed beautifully, too, with a visceral capturing of the snowy landscape and the danger which looms both in Nature and in Man.

Indeed, the streaming service has introduced two French crime thrillers this week alone. The other is the highly anticipated La Mante (The Mantis), starring ex-Bond girl Carole Bouquet as a now-incarcerated sexual serial killer who offers to assist the police in capturing her copycat killer, with a few strings attached. And at the core of both La Mante and Glacé is a peculiar fascination for revenge killings whose moral compass seems to defend a particularly gruesome form of male mutilation which may seem fitting to some and abhorrent to others. Too soon for #MeToo references? I leave it to you to decide. All in all, The Frozen Dead will serve as quite a cozy way to spend a chilly weekend. 

The Frozen Dead (Glacé) is presently streaming on Netflix.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19-Yxn4momU

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