Post Mortem: No One Dies In Skarnes is a strange kettle of fish. This Norwegian series essentially blends comedy, drama and horror together into a six episode series that hits just as much as it misses.
The story itself is relatively straightforward, with echoes of mystery bleeding through what is otherwise a modern vampire story. At the heart of this is Live Hallangen, a woman who’s found dead out in the fields one morning. When she’s moved to the autopsy table, courtesy of officers Judith and Reinert, Live suddenly reawakens.
Live’s brother Odd and father Arvid just so happen to be in charge of a family-run funeral home. Only, there’s a problem. No one in the quiet town of Skarnes seems to die so their business is not doing too well. With this black cloud hovering over the business, Arvid seems to know what’s going on with Live and sets to work trying to stop his own daughter.
It doesn’t take long before a series of unfortunate events sees Live grappling with the gravitas of being a vampire. Beyond the blood-lust though, most of the conventional vampire lore is missing here. There’s no fear of sunlight, garlic, crosses or visible fangs either; the lusting for blood is only matched by the occasion emerald green eye-glow. While the desire is clearly here to portray something a little more grounded and realistic, the oddball elements don’t quite work as well as they could.
The mystery itself is pretty weak too and most savvy watchers will figure out who the culprit is who tried to kill Live very early on. Ultimately though, the show tries to be both funny and dramatic, which is where the tonal inconsistencies really show.
Episode 3 is arguably one of the funnier episodes, getting that tonal balance just right and leaning into the absurdist and dark humour beautifully. By comparison, some of the later chapters lose that in favour of weak melodrama, along with an open ending that doesn’t really resolve that much.
Odd has his own subplot running through this series too, namely in the form of mounting debts at the funeral home. With dead bodies starting to pile up around town, there’s a poetic irony to all of this that’s not quite explored as thoroughly as the synopsis to this would have you believe. The few instances of Live and Odd’s story overlapping are certainly some of the best moments of the show.
While there is a conclusion to most of the events that take place, by the end there’s also a slight tinge of disappointment that Post Mortem doesn’t contort, twist or subvert expectations when it comes to conventional vampire lore. Unlike something like What We Do In The Shadows, Post Mortem’s story feels like a mish-mash of family drama and modern vampire tale and the balance doesn’t quite feel as tightly wound as it could be.
The characters are certainly likable though and there’s a good variety of supporting players that crop up here too. Straight-faced Judith certainly has a few crackling lines as the determined police officer in town, while Reinert is given an unexpected turn later on in the show, injecting a couple of neat twists into the fold.
Overall though, Post Mortem is going to be an acquired taste. There’s certainly some positives to come from this one, but equally a couple of meandering subplots and dud jokes that lean into that aforementioned tonal clash. If you’re looking for something a little different, this one should hit the right spots but just don’t expect anything too ground-breaking.
Verdict - 6.5/10