Is 'The Chestnut Man' Mystery Worth Cracking Open On Netflix?

The Chestnut Man Kastanjemanden Danica Curcic Naia Thulin Netflix
Tine Harden / Netflix

“The Chestnut Man” (“Kastanjemanden”) is a dark new murder mystery from Denmark, and it is now streaming on Netflix. Season 1 contains six episodes, with the premiere doing the heavy lifting of getting viewers involved in the brewing drama. The first episode begins with a gruesome scene that suggests the beginnings of the titular serial killer, whose calling card is a figurine made out of a chestnut.

After a police officer discovers a horrific crime scene, “The Chestnut Man” skips to the present day and a newly widening mystery that seems entirely separate. On the case is detective Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic, “Equinox”), a single mom hoping to transfer over to the IT department. But, before her commissioner even considers it, he assigns her a new case and a new partner.

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Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Fรธlsgaard) is from Europol, only to find himself cooling his heels in Copenhagen. While Hess and Thulin hope their situation as partners is only temporary, viewers can probably guess the arrangement is anything but that. Soon they find themselves pulled into the heinous mystery of what befell a single mom, whose murder seems unrelated to the awful scene that starts “The Chestnut Man.”

That is, of course, until the seemingly mundane discovery of a chestnut man. For Thulin and Hess, it seems a far-fetched connection to the crime scene. Viewers know differently, though, and before long, Thulin and Hess do too. If you thought two murder mysteries would be enough for “The Chestnut Man” to solve, think again because a third mystery is also at play.

The daughter of a parliamentary social minister, Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner), was murdered between the two murders that started the series. Yes, this show features “Dateline” level stuff. To the parents and the public, the mystery has already gotten solved. However, a chestnut man found at Thulin and Hess’ crime scene seems to connect them. 

Okay, so now that we understand what “The Chestnut Man” is about, let us discuss if it is worth watching. The cinematography is stunning, with its autumnal pallet providing an unnervingly warm glow to a disturbing plotline. For reference, think of “The Girl on the Train.” It helps pull viewers into a story that hopefully shows the titular killer found and justice served.

If you managed to get through the first episode of the Netflix series “Perfume,” then you can arguably handle “The Chestnut Man.” The former series remains one of Netflix’s most memorable original offerings. Like “The Chestnut Man,” it is bleak before becoming a character-driven mystery that is quite soul-shaking. Is this new Danish series on that level?

It is tough to know. Still, for those seeking something creepy in October for Halloween, this might be your ticket. It has a profoundly unsettling vibe and a mystery that will pique your curiosity. They say it killed the cat, but it cannot hurt a TV viewer. Although some things are familiar, “The Chestnut Man” comes bearing a lot of the traditional tropes that set up these sorts of series.

The police officer does not call for backup and gets killed, taking potential information to the grave. Then there is the new partnership between detectives who have an initial distaste for one another. And like Finland’s “Deadwind,” a single mom detective wears many hats while trying to keep her neck up.

The show spells of potential for a six-episode mystery that will hopefully leave viewers with a well-defined conclusion. It does not feel like a “Who Killed Sara?” scenario. However, Netflix has billed this as Season 1. So, the promise of a limited series is wholly elusive and open to the potential for a continuation. If yours truly ends up watching “The Chestnut Man” beyond the premiere, the answer will become clear. 

As an absorbing mystery, the Danish series comes on strong. The only issue is the graphicness of the violence, which does not feel necessary. To its credit, the cast seems to walk right out of real life, and the direction is mindful without being slow. In an incentive for any “General Hospital” fans out there, Anders Hove (Cesar Faison) puts in an appearance.

Even though I am only one episode in, I have already learned something. According to the show, there is a big culture around the making of chestnut men. I had never heard of them before, and it is eye-opening, seeing as I just thought they were an eerie conjuring for the series. 

Apparently, there is more to it than that. Thanks to seeing the chestnut in such a menacing role, one thing is sure. You will never listen to “The Christmas Song” quite the same way. Is the show worth continuing? My verdict is yes. “The Chestnut Man” is now streaming on Netflix alongside a lot of other murder mystery series.