The Frozen Dead isn’t a bad TV show but it’s not a particularly good one either. This French crime thriller starts promisingly enough but quickly melts any promise as it methodically ticks off every clichéd trope in this genre right up to its climactic ending. The Frozen Dead certainly has its moments but the profound lack of creativity stifles what little entertaining parts there are in this show. Stylistically, this series is stunning and some of the camera work and composition are incredibly well done. With so many other options out there in this genre, its unlikely that many will remember The Frozen Dead in the years to come.
Set in a small village blanketed by snow and ice, The Frozen Dead begins with a strange case that sees former detective Martin Servaz (Charles Berling) returning to the call of duty to investigate a case involving a decapitated horse. Alongside his partner Irene (Julia Piaton), the two begin to uncover a sinister plot lurking in the shadows whilst imprisoned serial killer Hirtmann (Pascal Greggory), seems to know more than he’s letting on as he becomes entangled in the story. Most of the series plays out like a standard crime thriller; plenty of interviews, driving and phone calls ladled with expository dialogue that litter the scenes whilst a seemingly unstoppable serial killer pulls the strings from afar. There are genuinely entertaining moments here but they occur sporadically and are too infrequent to make The Frozen Dead stand out from the other crime thrillers in this genre. With titles like Hannibal, The Wire and Broadchurch, The Frozen Dead pales in comparison with a profound lack of flair and imagination.
The characters are generally archetypes of the standard tropes you’d expect in crime thrillers. The mentally damaged male protagonist, the spunky female sidekick and the maniacal, dangerous serial killer all feature in this triangle of tired character tropes, although the acting is generally pretty good all round. To be fair, a few of the characters do have stand out moments – Irene’s intense showdown with a face from the past, Martin’s internal struggles and the various short bursts of action all stand out but there just isn’t enough substance here to really make The Frozen Dead shine.
It’s a shame too because visually The Frozen Dead is fantastic. The setting is interesting and the village layout allows for some breathtaking establishing shots of mountains to dwarf the houses in their shadow. The composition of shots is generally very good too with a unique variety of camera angles using archways, car doors and any manner of effects to distort or beautify the editing between scenes. For all the great cinematography, this artistic flair juxtaposes with the lacklustre story and character work although it does manage to soften the issues with the show.
Stylistically at least, this 6 part French series excels and for that alone, The Frozen Dead deserves at least a bit of credit. Coupled with a few stand out moments, the episodes are sporadically entertaining with pockets of drama nestled between long, drawn out scenes. It’s here that the show highlights its clichéd tropes and tired story conventions that hold it back from being more than a mildly entertaining show. Alongside others in this genre, The Frozen Dead thaws any hope of standing out from the mass of better options available and is unlikely to be remembered for years to come.