Don't go into The Chestnut Man on Netflix expecting to be scared so much that you never sleep again. But if you can handle some scary parts and a constant feeling of dread while watching all six episodes and you're into something that feels like it could happen in real life, then you'll be just scared enough.
That being said, because The Chestnut Man almost feels like it was ripped from the headlines, some viewers want to know if it's based on a true story. It's a murder mystery at heart, and it's one that feels almost scarier than a ghost story because it's about murders that could happen in the real world. (Or, some viewers are convinced, murders that have happened in the real world.)
The plot of 'The Chestnut Man' is based on what feels like reality rather than the supernatural.
Season 1 of The Chestnut Man follows a sort of cat-and-mouse game between a killer and the detectives out to solve the case. It begins with the discovery of a family brutally murdered on their farm in 1987. An officer finds a room full of little figurines made of matches and chestnuts. Then, we flash forward to the present day and the body of a woman found on a playground.
Her hand is missing and above her hangs a small figure made of matches and chestnuts like the ones found in the farm more than 30 years previously. Authorities are soon on the hunt for the Chestnut Man, a serial killer whose motives are at first unclear. Detectives Mark Hess and Naia Thulin are paired up to investigate the case and figure out who the elusive Chestnut Man is.
Is 'The Chestnut Man' based on a true story?
Although The Chestnut Man feels like it follows a real story about a serial killer, it's actually not based on a true story. It is based on a novel of the same name by Søren Sveistrup, though it was originally titled Kastanjemanden. Søren also serves as the head writer for the Netflix adaptation.
In the Chestnut Man book, a man who gets the nickname of the Chestnut Man terrorizes Copenhagen with the same method of murder. And just like in the show, two detectives who otherwise might not work together are tasked with solving the brutal crimes. Long before the Netflix series was even a thing, readers spoke highly of the Chestnut Man book and how scary it is.
Expectations were high for the show. Søren also wrote The Crime, which he adapted for American television in the form of The Killing, which eventually found a home on Netflix. In both The Crime and The Chestnut Man, Søren explores themes of child neglect and horrific crimes in otherwise seemingly peaceful settings.
Per RemoNews, he said he was inspired to write The Crime when he heard a news story about neglected children who hadn't received help from the government. He didn't say if the same inspiration struck him for The Chestnut Man.
But now, stories about children who are victimized by their neglectful parents is almost his niche as an author and a screenwriter.
Watch The Chestnut Man on Netflix.