Elly McDonald

Writer

Review: TV series – Monster (Norway, 2017)

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Monster (2017) – TV series, set in northernmost Norway.

This is a Norway to make its tourism board wince. This is a contemporary Norway that makes it self-explanatory why menfolk went a-viking during the winter months, a Norway where gods of war and mayhem and the two-faced goddess Hel still hold sway.

This is a Norway of grotesques, where almost everyone is decaying, ugly, distorted, misshapen, spiritually if not physically. The grotesque is so defiantly presented it’s stated as the norm: See this? THIS? THIS is normal, hereabouts.

Overlaid on this landscape of casual and purposeful violence is a dark form of Christianity, embodied in an isolated sect and pervading the narrative.

Mankind (woman too) is fallen. We are all flawed, all guilty. We are all exposed to the Devil and we all flail about, blindly reaching for salvation, whatever form that may take.

Who or what is the “Monster”?

Monster is a different Nordic-Noir, or Scandi-Noir. It’s even bleaker, and in some respects experimental. There are sequences where the physical choreography of the human body is the point. There are sequences that are Theatre of the Absurd.

Monster is not easy viewing. It’s a rejection of our television norms: the actors (with conspicuous exceptions) do not look like TV actors, the characters defy sympathy. Things don’t turn out the ways we might assume.

Loose ends are scattered like nooses, which might presage a Season 2. I hope not. I think the tale left it just where it was meant to, with those ugly odd bits provocatively on display.

Author: Elly McDonald

Worked in the Australian rock music industry as a journalist and published widely as a poet before moving to London and spending the better part of a decade in advertising agencies. Returned to Australia and tried teaching, primarily teaching English to non-English speaking, newly-arrived refugees but also briefly as a high school classroom teacher. Has travelled Western Europe, North Africa, Russia, Northern India, East Asia, coastal USA, some Pacific Islands, and Australia.

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