January 22, 2024

CABLE | Frozen Pulp – 'True Detective: Night Country' Catches the Cold

"Even the dead get bored."
Jodie Foster Finn Bennett Issa López | True Detective: Night Country HBO
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Accomplished Mexican horror filmmaker Issa López takes over season four of HBO's prestige crime anthology series in the icy, female-centric True Detective: Night Country. An inverse of the first season's sweaty Louisiana masculinity, this season is set in frozen darkness during the annual month-long period of continuous nighttime in a remote Northern Alaskan town as López both enhances and subverts what initially drew audiences to pulpy detective drama.

Produced by Barry Jenkins, our contrasting all-American detectives this time around are played dynamically by veteran actress Jodie Foster (channelling an older, gruff take on her Clarice Starling) and former world champion boxer Kali Reis. Their version of two mismatched, diverging investigators are tasked with solving the sudden and unexplained disappearance of eight men from a research station on the "third day of night" and its unclear, mysterious connection to another unsolved murder from six years earlier.

Filmed in Iceland to set the chilly mood and along the lines of elements of other seasons, Night Country teases supernatural occurrences and cult-like behaviour grounded in the characters' deep-seated traumas, echoing possible lingering ghosts from their pasts. Alongside our detectives, Finn Bennett, Isabella Star LaBlanc, and John Hawkes flesh out the cast to build the reluctant familiarity of isolating small-town living with some well-drawn inclusion of Indigenous Alaskan culture.

Lopez, as the primary writer, director of all six episodes, and showrunner, reimagines the True Detective series as a snowy, feminine-energized pulp tale that thankfully refreshes the sometimes ludicrous nature of dark and gritty type crime shows obsessed with "dead girl" tropes. By centering the inexplicable behaviour of townspeople during a period of endless darkness without natural sunlight, Night Country buries its central mystery in plain sight.

True Detective: Night Country airs weekly on HBO and is available to stream on Crave in Canada (and on Max in the U.S.).

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