Netflix has brought another Scandi-mystery to a global audience, but this one is based on a true case. Here’s what you need to know about the true story behind ’The Lørenskog Disappearance.’
Have you ever heard of Lørenskog-saken (The Lørenskog case)? If you live outside Norway, probably not. Until recently, of course. Now one of Norway’s best-known missing person cases has a global audience.
Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared from her home under strange circumstances in 2018. While Police were initially stumped, suspicion eventually fell upon her millionaire husband. He was released, and the case remains unsolved.
When Nordic noir becomes real
True crime has become one of the most popular genres of TV in recent years. It was also arguably responsible for the mainstream adoption of podcasts several years ago. Nordic noir has a global fan base, and now the two genres have come together. Sort of.
With a mystery involving a missing millionaire’s wife, complicated personal lives, botched investigations by the Norwegian police and a dive into the world of cryptocurrency and the dark web, the show has all the ingredients for a Scandi-crime hit. Yet it’s actually a dramatisation of a real life, still unsolved case.
Putting together a dramatisation of a still unsolved missing person case is an odd choice given that things in the real world could change at any point. Is it worth watching?
Take a look at the trailer, above. Then, read on for the details behind this unusual case, and make up your own mind.
What happened to Anne-Elisabeth Hagen?
Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared from her home in Lørenskog, near Oslo, under strange circumstances in 2018. There were no signs of forced entry and almost no forensic evidence.
When the 69-year-old went missing, the police chose not to make the information public because her husband, Tom Hagen, is a well-known wealthy businessman.
Hagen revealed a ransom letter had been left behind at the scene. It demanded millions in an obscure cryptocurrency for her release. The letter, typed on white Clas Ohlson paper likely bought locally, was written in Norwegian.
However, while there were mistakes in the text, linguists believed the mistakes were deliberately made in order to make it seem the person behind the note was not a native Norwegian, when in fact, they were.
The real-life twist
Eventually the case was made public, but the police continued to struggle. Police made contact with the supposed kidnappers via a cryptocurrency code, but their slow, vague replies cast doubt on the whole situation.
Then after 18 months came a moment that shocked Norway. Police arrested Tom Hagen.
It was fairly well known among friends that the Hagen marriage was on the brink of failure. A divorce may have resulted in Tom Hagen losing up to half of his vast fortune, despite a restrictive prenuptial agreement.
He denied any involvement with the case, and was released shortly afterwards despite appeals to the public prosecutor from the police. Despite this, the arrest caused a resurgence of interest in the case and coverage in the Norwegian newspapers.
As of October 2022 when I'm writing this, Anne-Elisabeth Hagen is still missing.
What is the Netflix show like?
As I said before, although the case is relatively well-known in Norway, it was almost unheard of outside the country. Together with the fact that it remains unsolved, that makes the choice of the case a very odd one.
Because the case is unsolved, it removes any mystery from the mystery and gives a somewhat unsatisfying ending. The structure of the show is interesting, showing the perspective of the lawyers and journalists covering the case, among others.
There's also a lot more going on in the show including the personal lives of investigators, a honeytrap sex scandal and underground criminal gangs.
Yet despite all this story, it's a relatively slow-paced show. That's not unusual for Scandinavian crime drama, but in this case it struggles to make an impression.
“If you’re a fan of what has become known as Nordic noir, you expect a lack of action in thrillers that come from Scandinavian countries. There tends to be a lot of talking and looking at screens and pin-and-string boards. But a new series from Norway, based on a true story, seems to be nothing but talking and staring,” reported Decider.
Have you watched The Lørenskog Disappearance? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.