Gustav Möller, whose feature debut “The Guilty” won Sundance’s Audience award in 2018, is back with “The Dark Heart,” a gripping series based on Joakim Palmkvist’s bestselling true-crime thriller novel.
Represented worldwide by REinvent International Sales, the five-part series is world premiering virtually at Sundance festival in the Indie Episodic section.
The series was penned by Möller and Oskar Söderlund, a popular screenwriter whose credits includes Netflix’s hit series “Snabba Cash.” FLX, the SF Studios-owned Swedish banner behind “Quicksand” and “Solsidan,” produced the show for Discovery Plus.
“The Dark Heart” follows Sanna, the 21-year-old daughter of a rich landowner in southern Sweden whose father, Bengt, makes his fortune by leasing inherited land to hardworking family farmers. When Sanna begins a relationship with Marcus, the penniless son of a nearby farmer, her father issues an ultimatum — leave Marcus or lose her inheritance. Soon after, Bengt disappears without a trace. The local police turns to Tanja, an investigator with Missing People Sweden, whose passion for solving the case quickly turns into an obsession.
The suspenseful series is based on the true story of Therese Tang, a Missing People volunteer who solved a murder case in the town of Förlösa in 2012.
Speaking to Variety, Möller said “The Dark Heart” isn’t a whodunit,” but rather a character study. “Quite early on, we get a sense of who is guilty and who is not, so the series is much more about the psychology of these characters. What I thought was really fascinating when I read Joakim Palmkvist’s book is how similar the two protagonists are,” said the filmmaker. “What brought them together in spite of their differences is the fact that they’re both outsiders and starving for self-realization and recognition — one gets there by violence and murder, while the other gets there by trying to solve a murder.”
Möller and Söderlund split creative duties on “The Dark Heart.” Söderlund spoke to the author of the book and people involved in the case while writing the story. Möller focused on the characters and directed all five episodes.
The Swedish helmer said he was “fascinated” by the project because it touches upon modern, yet timeless themes. “You have this family feud and this rich patriarch; it felt like something from a 19th century novel, but the themes and characters were very contemporary,” Möller added.
Since he’s been living in Denmark for 13 years and made his feature debut “The Guilty” in Danish, Möller said he was happy to return to his homeland in Sweden to make “The Dark Heart.”
“It was a great opportunity for me to be able to work with some Swedish talent that I had watched,” said Möller.
The show’s tense atmosphere is also bolstered by the original score composed by Petter Winnberg, a member of the Swedish band Amason. “The music really captures the folk soul of Sweden,” said Möller.
Next up, Möller is developing two feature projects, including “Snow Blind” with Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in the U.S. remake of “The Guilty,” which was released by Netflix last fall. He’s also writing a second Danish feature, which he describes as being in the same veins as “The Guilty” but with a woman as the main character.
Watch the trailer below: