20 Scandinavian detective thrillers

The Scandinavians are thoughtful people who make films with meaning. Cinematographers raise important social issues and capture the attention of the viewer through realistic stories, unexpected denouement and talented shooting with beautiful northern views. We have compiled a list of the best Scandinavian detective and thriller films.

Queen of Hearts (2019)

Anna is a successful child abuse lawyer, caring wife and mother. When Gustav, the son of her husband from his first marriage, appears in the family, Anna experiences an unexpected temptation and takes the first step towards forbidden relationship with her stepson. To bring the thriller closer to reality, Danish director May el-Touki conducted a study on the origin of family secrets and violence emanating from women.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Dronningen

Actors:
Trine Dyurholm, Gustav Lind, Magnus Krepper…

Country:
Denmark, Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
18+


Ideal Patient (2019)

The Scandinavian novelty of 2019 is a Swedish detective with elements of a thriller about Thomas Quick, nicknamed the new Hannibal Lecter. The maniac voluntarily surrendered to the police and confessed to committing 30 murders. No one could understand the reasons for the guilt, because most of the cases had no evidence, and some even contradicted the truth. After 20 years, the excessively fair journalist Hannes Rostam decides to prove his innocence. The film is based on a true story about the biggest failure of Sweden’s judicial system.

Original title:
The Perfect Patient

Actors:
Jonas Karlsson, David Densik, Alba August …

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
18+


Tunnel: Life Dangerous (2019)

On Christmas Eve thousands of cars enter the 9-kilometer tunnel through the snowy mountains of Norway. An unsuccessful maneuver of the fuel truck driver leads to an accident, the fire quickly spreads through the tunnel, cutting off the exit for people. Fear and confusion lead to the first deaths. All hope for the rescuers who are stuck in a snow storm. The action-packed Norwegian thriller, based on real events, was filmed by the director as a reminder that most tunnels in Scandinavia do not have an emergency exit.

Original title:
Tunnelen

Actors:
Torbjorn Harr, Ylva Fuglegud, Lisa Carlehead …

Country:
Norway

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 6.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Suicide Hotel (2019)

The protagonist of the new Scandinavian detective is a terminally ill insurance agent Max Isaksen. Several suicide attempts were unsuccessful: Max does not have the courage to leave his beloved wife alone. The job takes the man to the Aurora mountain hotel, where his client allegedly went missing. The contract signed at the entrance states that the staff of the boarding house will help the guest say goodbye to life. Max understands that it is no longer possible to take back the words.

Original title:
Selvmordsturisten

Actors:
Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Tuva Novotny, Solbjorg Heyfeldt …

Country:
Denmark, Norway, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 5.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Mysterium (film series, 2013-2018)

A series of Scandinavian detective thrillers based on the books of the writer Jussi Adler-Olsen, known for his twisted plots and unpredictable outcomes. Starring Detective Karl Merck, exiled to the Copenhagen police because of the unsuccessful capture of a criminal, and Assad, a rookie with no experience. The couple is engaged in abandoned cases that could not be solved for lack of evidence.

Original title:
Kvinden i buret

Actors:
Nikolay Li Kaas, Fares Fares, Per Shil Kruger…

Country:
Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Break (2018)

Geologist Christian Aykord suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the Geiranger disaster and is constantly waiting for new troubles. After receiving news of the death of a former colleague during an earthquake, Christian travels there to find out the truth. From the papers of a friend, the seismologist learns that the tremors will lead to large breaks in the soil that will destroy the city. The gripping thriller produced by Norway is a direct sequel to the 2015 disaster film The Wave, which is also in our selection.

Original title:
Skjelvet

Actors:
Stig R. Amdam, Christoffer Yoner, Eni Dahl Thorp…

Country:
Norway

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 6.2

Age limit:
16+


In the name of salvation (2018)

Alex grew up under the yoke of his father in a crumbling family. At the first opportunity, the guy went to the city to become a pianist, but circumstances forced him to return. Against the backdrop of a family drama, a war unfolds with an unknown enemy. The enemy is invisible and his power is limitless. The military can not cope, and people survive as best they can. To play his character as a teenager, Kristoffer Nurdenroot lost 20 kg and gained weight again in 4 months.

Original title:
Den blomstertid nu kommer

Actors:
Kristoffer Nurdenruth, Lisa Henny, Jesper Barkselius…

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.1, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Guilty (2017)

Unusual even by Scandinavian standards, the Danish detective shows one character for most of the film. Asger Holm is a suspended police officer who works as a 112 rescue operator while he waits for a court hearing. At the end of the working day, a call comes in from a woman imitating a conversation with her daughter. Asger guesses that she has been kidnapped and passes the request to the police . The facts and evidence point to a simple outcome, but the detective begins his own investigation, because every minute the chances of the hostage’s survival decrease.

Original title:
Den skyldige

Actors:
Jacob Sedergren, Jessica Dinnaj, Omar Shargavi …

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Incident at the Neil Hilton Hotel (2017)

Popular singer Lalina dies in a fashionable hotel in Cairo. Despite the presence of an eyewitness to the crime, the police quickly close the case, setting him up for suicide. Noredine Mostafa, a nondescript detective with no ambitions who handled this case, is aware of how low his position is in the world of big money and connections. Not wanting to put up with reality, the policeman decided to get to the bottom of the truth, even if it threatens death. The film is unusual in that the action of the detective takes place not in snowy Scandinavia, but in warm Egypt.

Original title:
The Nile Hilton Incident

Actors:
Fares Fares, Marie Malek, Yasser Ali Maher…

Country:
Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Morocco, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
18+


Three Conditions (2017)

The protagonist of the atmospheric Danish thriller is an experienced demolitionist who is part of a gang of Serbian robbers . After being taken into custody, Mikael agrees to hand over former accomplice Mark Rukov in exchange for immunity. In the strictest confidence, the witness is taken to a hotel room to testify in court in the morning. But first, Mikael asks to fulfill three wishes: deliver a suitcase with things, invite an ex-girlfriend and eat chicken from the Venus Pizza restaurant.

Original title:
3 ting

Actors:
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Birgitta Yort Sorensen, Lerke Winter Andersen…

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 5.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Wave (2015)

The Scandinavian disaster film tells about the seismologist Christian Aykord, who lives in the village of Geiranger with his wife and children. Colleagues gave him a farewell before moving to a big city. Suddenly, sensors that measure the height of groundwater are triggered. Colleagues see no reason to worry, but Christian cannot get it out of his head. Checking again, Aykord realizes that the rocks have moved, and a huge wave is moving towards the village.

Original title:
Bølgen

Actors:
Kristoffer Yoner, Eni Dahl Thorp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro …

Country:
Norway, Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Second Chance (2014)

Two boys were born on the same day in Copenhagen. Alexander was a desired child and grew up in a prosperous family, in love and care. But he passed away early. Sophus, on the contrary, was of no use to anyone, but miraculously remained alive. Fate met two different families, and the result was a kidnapping. In the dramatic thriller produced in Denmark and Sweden, director Susanna Beer once again proved her professionalism in building realistic works.

Original title:
En chance til

Actors:
Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Roland Muller, Nikolai Lie Kaas …

Country:
Denmark, Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
16+


Murder by the Sea (2013)

An exciting Scandinavian film with elements of a thriller and a detective story is an adaptation of the works of Camilla Lackberg, known for her unexpected endings. The events of the first part originate in a small fishing town located on the sea coast. This is where the writer Erika finds herself, hoping to find creative inspiration among the picturesque Scandinavian nature. The measured provincial life of the heroine of the detective is overshadowed by the news of a terrible incident that happened by the sea.

Original title:
Tyskungen

Actors:
Claudia Galli, Richard Ulfsater, Eva Fritjofson …

Country:
Sweden, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Dead Swell (2013)

Julia returns to the island of Öland, a lonely woman who lost her son here 20 years ago. On that day, grandfather did not see after his grandson, after a long search, the boy was recognized as missing without a trace. But grandfather does not give up hope and suspects the triple killer Niels Kant of kidnapping. Julia was skeptical about the words of her father, because this man died before the disappearance of his son. But why do people keep seeing Niels in the wasteland at dusk? The Swedish detective film is worth watching for all fans of typically Scandinavian cinema.

Original title:
Skumtimmen

Actors:
Lena Endre, Tord Peterson, Thomas V. Gabrielsson …

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Hypnotist (2012)

In the suburbs of Stockholm found brutally murdered coach of the basketball team . His wife and little daughter were hacked to death in the house. Only the son survived, who cannot testify due to his severe physical condition. Police Commissioner Yona Linna persuades his friend Eric to conduct a hypnosis session. The detective needs to find out the identity of the killer, because the life of another family member is at stake – the eldest daughter. The Swedish film is a detective with a good deal of psychological thriller, which makes it a breeze to watch.

Original title:
Hypnotisören

Actors:
Tobias Zilliakus, Mikael Persbrandt, Lena Olin…

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.6, IMDb – 5.6

Age restrictions:
18+


Call Girl (2012)

Two 14-year-old girls who escaped from an orphanage end up in Madame Dagmar Glans’ brothel in Stockholm. High government officials are welcome here, and when Minister of Justice Lennart Geir is suspected of visiting, the police open a case. The political detective story is a modern interpretation of the controversial 1977 Brothel Cases, in which leading Swedish politicians were seen in a brothel with underage prostitutes.

Original title:
Call Girl

Actors:
Sofia Karemir, Simon J. Berger, Josephine Asplund …

Country:
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 6.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Beyond (2012)

David and Freya are a young couple moving into a new country house. On the first day, a suicide happens next to them, and David wants to uncover this tragedy on his own. Instead of helping his wife fix up the house, the husband “plays detective,” devoting all his time to the suicide case and the grieving widow. Relations with Freya deteriorate even more when, on a rainy night, a handyman appears on the threshold of the house, ready to fix the house almost for nothing.

Original title:
Over Kanten

Actors:
Jonathan Spang, Christian Schamburg-Müller, Alexander Villaume …

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 4.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Headhunters (2011)

Roger Brown is an indispensable specialist in the selection of top managers. To support his beautiful wife’s demands, he lives beyond his means and steals art from job applicants. He chose Claes Graaff, the owner of a long-lost painting by Rubens, as his next victim. But the enemy is not so simple. A Scandinavian thriller with a high rating and good reviews from the audience is based on the book of one of the most popular detective authors of our time, Jo Nesbø.

Original title:
Hodejegerne

Actors:
Axel Henny, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Syunnöve Makodi Lund …

Country:
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Nobel’s Last Testament (2011)

Young and ambitious journalist Anika Bengzton is invited to cover the gala dinner with the Queen following the Nobel Prize. The girl becomes a witness to the murder of an official, but law enforcement agencies forbid divulging details. Anika starts an independent business in order to find the customer of the murder. But the truth can cost her and her beloved family their lives.

Original title:
Nobels testamente

Actors:
Malin Krepin, Bjorn Chjellman, Leif Andre…

Country:
Sweden

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 5.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Personality: unknown (2011)

Somewhere in France, on the banks of a river, a woman wakes up with no memory of her identity. She has a Danish accent, a fresh scar on her body, and a bag of money and weapons. The heroine of an interesting Scandinavian detective goes to Denmark, hoping to find answers in her supposed homeland. But she soon realizes that she is being followed. It seems that the woman’s past life was not easy, and she crossed the path of someone who should not be messed with.

Original title:
ID:A

Actors:
Tuva Novotny, Flemming Enevold, Karsten Bjornlunn…

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
16+


Other Scandinavian detectives and thrillers

  • July 22 (2018)
  • At the Edge of Worlds (2018)
  • Final (2018)
  • Underworld (2017)
  • Thelma (2017)
  • Euthanizer (2017)
  • Vanishing Illusionist (2015)
  • Flock (2015)
  • Idealist (2015)
  • Twilight Country (2014)
  • Easy Money (trilogy, 2010-2013)
  • Shooter (2013)
  • Hostages (2012)
  • Agent Hamilton: Kidnapped (2012)
  • Captive. Escape (2012)
  • Jackpot (2011)
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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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