Robert Hansen, a young police officer from Copenhagen, is transferred against his will to the small town of Skarrild in Southern Jutland as a substitute Marshall. The transfer is Robert’s chance to start over. But Robert has a hard time understanding the locals and their uncivilized approach to law and order. In a town where everyone knows everyone, people like to take care of things themselves. In order to get things done, Robert succumbs to the unwritten rules of this frontier marshland, making use of the uncivilized norms and practices he previously found so difficult to understand. Meanwhile, all hope of returning to Copenhagen seems to sink deeper and deeper into the marshes of Southern Jutland and a state of “terrible happiness” emerges.
Inspired by the novel by Erling Jepsen (who wrote the novel on which the successful film The Art of Crying is based), Genz’s grotesque drama, with its deviations into the crime, western and horror genres, is striking for its original stylisation and spellbinding evocation of the atmosphere pervading this disturbed community. “I wanted the film to be experienced as a nightmare in a surreal, parallel world, where things are fairly realistic, but everything is always shifting ever so slightly”, says the director of his film.