The Cliff, premiering April 10 on Walter Presents, is a tale of small town murder, and protest against Big Energy, but with a superstitious twist. According to town elders, the cliff in the title has a soul, and will punish any human who tries to destroy it. So when two demolition workers hired by a big energy company end up dead on the cliff, is it man or an ancient spirit who killed them?
Iceland Versus Big Energy
The Cliff is set in a small town in Iceland, and like Trapped Season 2, features a riled up citizenship protesting an energy company who needs to destroy some natural beauty in order to modernize the electrical grid across Iceland. One local family, Veigar (Hilmar Jonsson ), wife Eydís (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir ) and son Snorri (Thorir Sæmundsson ), has landed the contract to demolish the local cliff area for the controversial installation of giant electrical towers that will carry power lines across the area. When The Cliff opens, a ball of light is shooting through the night sky and over the land. “The Moon of Urd,” sighs the elderly Lauga, (Herdís Þorvaldsdóttir) watching through her window. A truck skids to a stop and man runs toward a rickety digging machine. When he touches the controls, he rears back in a flash of light, as if electrocuted.
Helgi and Inga
The next morning a local policewoman, Inga (Dóra Jóhannsdóttir ) arrives at the scene of an accident. A digger has gone over the cliff, with Snorri in it. He is gravely injured, lying in a coma at the hospital. Meanwhile, 50 pounds of dynamite has been stolen from the shed on the construction site. For reasons that are unclear but seem frankly like sexism, a male inspector named Helgi (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson ) is brought in from Reykjavik to help Inga with the investigation. She is understandably miffed and insists that this is HER investigation and he is only there to help. He magnanimously agrees. Turns out Helgi spent a summer (or summers) here back in high school, bunking with Lauga, and knows all the players. Veigar insists that the accident is actually sabotage by his rival Lárus (Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson ), who did not get the contract from the electrical company, and is upset that Veigar insists on using old machinery rather than renting updated equipment from Lárus. This seems a likely theory, especially since Lárus was not home the night of the accident, except that soon there is a gruesome second accident with some bizarre circumstances.
Does The Cliff have a soul?
When Helgi visits Lauga upon returning, we realize she has the power of sight, as they say. She tells Helgi that the cliff will protect itself against human interference, just like it has since the olden days. Jon, Lárus’ young son, also has the sight. He can see Helgi’s dead son by Helgi’s side, and he predicts the second accident. The town takes a vote and decides, much to the politicians’ chagrin, to bring a medium to talk to the cliff and find out if they should move forward with demolition. Meanwhile, the teenagers are acting strangely, like they are hiding something, Veigar is determined to prove that Lárus is behind this trouble, and people in town are hiding other secrets that may or may not affect the investigation. Helgi and Inga have become a good team, and there may be more than a professional connection forming between them.
The Cliff is a typical small town mystery-it has the out-of-town detective, the incestuous secrets that indirectly affect the investigation, a citizenship divided, and plenty of plausible suspects. What makes the plot unique is the addition of a supernatural element. The series is visually more spare than current Icelandic productions, with less showy cinematography and production design, but that seems reasonable considering its age. The program was originally released in 2009, so themes that now seem repetitive are actually 11 years old. There are some plot points that are a little under-explained, but not so much that the show becomes inscrutable. Overall, this is a solid procedural with a fun addition of spooky Norse superstition.
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