Post Mortem on Netflix carries the subtitle, “No One Dies in Skarnes”. That’s not a statement as much as a lament. Business in small-town Skarnes is slow for funeral directors Arvid (Terje Strømdahl) and his son, Odd Hallangen (Elias Holmen Sørensen). So, when they get a call to collect a body, they perk up, only to discover that it’s daughter/sibling Live Hallangen (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen) that’s been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Ever the professionals, Arvid and Odd (“Ought”) soldier on, delivering Live (“Lee-veh”) to the coroner to determine cause of death. Except, she’s not dead, as they find out when trying to cut her open. With the doctor chalking up her symptoms to hypothermia, Live carries on, but soon notices that she has an overwhelming desire for blood. Although Odd and his good-natured wife Rose (Sara Khorami) take Live’s recovery at face value, her father refuses to see her. Believe it or not, this set-up is hilarious. Now, if this were an American show, you can see exactly how this would go, right? Live kills people for blood, and ends up helping out her family business-a win-win! But that’s not what happens at all, which is part of the pleasure of watching Post Mortem on Netflix.
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Live is found by lead detective Judith (Kim Fairchild) and young cop Reinhart (André Sørum). Because of budget cuts, Judith refuses to call an ambulance. “Ambulances are for life and death. This is just death,” she states. So, she calls the funeral home to get the body, even though it’s Live’s family. Judith is a veteran cop, and she is semi-competent, which I find funnier than total incompetence. Reinhart is in love with Live, and has been his whole life, which leads to his own bad decision making. As the events of the season carry on, in which the death rate in town skyrockets suddenly, Judith is positive that Live is behind it. Turns out, Live’s mother had the same “darkness” (not a spoiler) in her, and Judith suspected her as well in the 1990’s when the death rate rose inexplicably. And Reinhart, well, he has his own journey that I won’t spoil here.
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Odd, Arvid and Live are all keeping secrets from one another, which ratchets up the tension and the hilarity in Post Mortem. Arvid has always known that Madeline, his late wife, had a taste for blood, but never told the kids. So, when Live “dies” and comes back to life, he immediately knows what’s going on. He resolves himself to burning her body, which is the only way to kill vampires. Meanwhile, Odd discovers that Arvid hasn’t paid his bills in a year, and that the bank is going to foreclose on the funeral home, which is also where the entire family lives, so he’s desperate for some business. “You have to stop smiling when people die,” Rose tells him. But Odd is a good man, and won’t participate in any shenanigans to save his family home, even though many opportunities present themselves. Live, who isn’t aware of her family’s money woes, is keeping her blood lust a secret from everyone, trying to find a solution, and accidentally killing people in the process.
Our Take on Post Mortem on Netflix
I found Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes hilarious. It’s probably not for everybody, but the deadpan humor mixed with occasional absurdity cracks me up. Yet, it’s more than just a comedy. It’s a family drama about how secrets make even the closest family members unknown to each other. And it’s also a small-town story. Every character is likable, and Odd and Live have a decency that creates even more trouble for themselves. The vampirism is played more for humor than horror, so it’s not scary. The show will definitely remind you of Six Feet Under, but it’s funnier and more innocent, in a way. And most importantly, the plot veers in unexpected directions. It may feel slow at times, but not for long. The ending clearly anticipates a second season, which I hope they make.
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