The Hallangen Family makes a living from dead people. No, they aren’t the murderers (exactly). They have run a funeral agency for the past five generations in a small village, Skarnes, Norway. The irony? No One Dies in Skarnes. People are healthy enough to cross the 80 milestones. As a result, The Hallangen’s are in huge debt. But that’s not the dominant conflict in Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes. Things get eerie in Skarnes when Arvid Hallangen’s daughter, Live, comes back from the dead. Scary, isn’t it?
Director/creator Petter Holmsen treats the dark realm with peculiarly cold humor. In 6 episodes of 40 minutes each, one may find many references to Vampirism. Though, the magnetic layer solely addresses the family values and one’s inclination towards them. What is it? Let’s find out.
Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes – Plot Summary
Local Police officers Reinert and Judith find the body of a 20-something Live Hallangen in the open field near a barn. Judith calls out the funeral service managed by Arvid, who happens to be Live’s father. Arvid arrives at the scene in his funeral limousine with his son, Odd. They subtly mourn over the death of a dear one and deliver the body to pathology for a Post Mortem.
The pathologist duo, who often plays riddles while scrutinizing the body, cuts Live’s chest with a scalpel. The incision pours out blood, which is quite strange for a dead body, but their doubts are duly dealt with soon enough. Live wakes up suddenly on the dissecting table.
At the hospital, Doctor Sverre Hansen considers Live suspended animation may have been caused by hypothermia, in which a patient’s body turns cold, and heart can stop momentarily. Sverre discharges Live soon as he doesn’t find any worrisome symptoms.
The eeriness begins at home when Live’s father, Arvid, refuses to see her. Later, at the dinner table, Arvid strangely lights up a lighter in front of Live’s eyes and observes a “stone green” color inside Live’s eyes. Arvid takes out his wife’s old recorded tapes and revisits a warning left by the children’s mother. Madeleine Hallangen warns Arvid, “Should you ever see my darkness in Live; you have to keep an eye for her.” The injunction compels Arvid to take drastic measures who tries to incinerate Live alive in his funeral agency. But Why?
There are too many questions boiling up, and we’ll try to answer them to the best of our knowledge.
What happened to Live Hallangen?
After her supernatural revival from the dead, Live turned into a blood-thirsty monster. It would be appropriate to call Live an unknown monster and not specifically a vampire because, except for her hunger for human blood, she showed no other signs of Vampirism. She moved freely in the sunlight and didn’t witness the famous “fangs.”
Despite these conventional cliches, Live got blessed with heightened hearing sense, changed eye color, and super-strength. However, the powers came with a curse that compelled Live to feed on blood on her loved ones.
In anger, she killed her father and later preyed upon her beloved patient, Margit’s blood. In her sleep, Live also bit Skarnes’ police officer Reinert’s neck to drink blood. Though, it was later revealed that her stance infected Reinert with the same curse. By the end of the series, there were two known monsters in Skarnes who were addicted to human blood.
Who was Madeleine Hallangen?
Live’s mother, Madeleine, was the first known case of monstrosity. Her truth was only revealed to two people, her husband Arvid Hallangen and her doctor, Sverre Hansen.
Arvid was killed in Episode 1, “Post Mortem.” Thus, it was time for Sverre to put some light on the mystery.
According to Sverre, Madeleine wasn’t Skarnes’ native. She already had the curse when she arrived in the village and tried hard to quit blood. It was when she fell ill and was treated by the village’s doctor, Sverre. Madeleine’s blood had an uncanny power to heal the body, and Sverre was inclined to extract these properties to produce a vaccine that could have become a key to eternal life. It would have become breakthrough research in Sverre’s career, but Madeleine took her life to end her horrors. Her suicide spoiled Sverre’s ambitious plans.
Before her death, Madeleine feared that Live would turn up like her, and thus, in her recorded tapes, she instructed Arvid to keep an eye on Live. She speculated that Live would die of natural causes. Still, unfortunately, she was attacked in the fields, which activated her curse.
Who attacked Live in the fields?
Post Mortem Episode 5, “Baptism by Fire,” unraveled much of the mystery. Sverre cunningly tried to burn both Live and Reinert in an old barn outside the village. The action gave away other vampire references. In folklore and tales, Vampires were often burnt alive by humans to finish them forever.
At this thrilling moment, Sverre handed Live’s necklace to her, which was stolen by the person who attacked and killed her. Thus, (in a sinister voice) it was Sverre, all along. He killed Live to ignite her curse that would later help Sverre extract Live’s blood for his research. After he had enough samples, he tried to kill both Live and Reinert.
It was also established that Sverre infected his bloodstream with Live and Reinert’s blood samples to transform himself into the monster. A scientific expedition that went too far. Fortunately, Live and Reinert came out alive from the fire, but in his uncontrollable hunger, Reinert killed Sverre.
‘Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes’ Season 1: Ending Explained
There was a time when the sky was blue, and people were happy. No one died in Skarnes, and Hallangen Funeral Agency was on the verge of bankruptcy. But gone are those days, literally.
By the end of Episode 6, “Rigor Mortis,” there were three and two half (if one considers Live and Reinert) deaths in Skarnes.
Sverre’s death could have been directly pointed towards Live and Reinert. For all unfortunate reasons, Judith was obsessively investigating the case. Yet, even amid the chaos, Live decided to help Odd. They plotted Sverre’s body in his house, and Reinert declared him dead by natural causes. As per their plan, Sverre’s sister organized a lavish funeral for her late brother. It gave a chance to Odd to sell off his most prized casket, Mahogany Casket.
The elegant funeral could have saved Hallangen Funeral Agency until Odd conscience intervened. During Sverre’s body preparation for the burial, Odd found out that Sverre’s body didn’t experience a “Rigor Mortis” that stiffens the body due to blood coagulation. It was because Live had already taken out blood from Sverre’s body for her and Reinert’s consumption.
Odd reported the same to Judith, who quickly got into action. Judith requested her seniors to send the body for autopsy and sought permission to arrest Live for the murder of Sverre. Though before Judith could arrest Live, she confessed her crimes with Odd. He tried to save Live from arrest, but Judith was hell-bent. Judith relied on Sverre’s pathology report to obtain proper evidence against Live. When Sverre’s body reached the pathology, the pathologists found it was embalmed, i.e., blood had been taken out from it and filled with chemicals instead to preserve the corpse.
Due to lack of evidence, Judith had to release Live. Sverre’s funeral happened elegantly as planned by his family and funeral instructor, Odd. Odd finally paid his debt and saved the family business, though something was still amiss.
In a flashback sequence, it was underlined that while embalming Sverre’s body, Odd didn’t find even a glass full of blood in his body. Odd suspected Live of something uncanny that she had been hiding all along, but like a caring elder brother, he just let it go in the end. There are too many things we don’t understand, and it is better if we don’t.
Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes is a 2021 Norwegian Supernatural Drama series created by Petter Holmsen. It is streaming on Netflix.