The Snowman movie poster
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The Snowman
The Snowman movie poster

The Snowman Movie Review

I took my mom, who will say nice things about just about any movie she sees, to Michael Fassbender’s serial killer movie The Snowman, and her response was, “It captured the Scandinavian feel.” Yes, mom, the movie is based on a Norwegian book and is set in Norway and there is lots of fucking snow, so yes, it has a Scandinavian feel. The rest of the movie makes you feel as though you’re eating the yellow stuff, however.

Fassbender plays Harry Hole (yes, Harry Hole, pronounced Harry Hole), an alcoholic homicide detective who doesn’t do a whole lot but get drunk, forgets to do things with his ex-girlfriend’s son because who ever forgets to do that, and refuses to acknowledge glaring clues that his partner (Rebecca Ferguson) points out to him. After the first victim disappears, Harry Hole declares “she’s having an affair” even though the woman left her young daughter home alone in the middle of the winter night, with the door open, and didn’t take her keys, purse or phone.

Good detective work, Harry Hole.

The real mystery is how Tomas Alfredson, the director behind the boring-but-well-made Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and the excellent Let the Right One In, made a movie that looks so amateurish and sloppy. From the opening sequence that feels pasted together in a kindergarten class to oddly disjointed murder sequences where Alfredson attempts to do his best to make them as un-suspenseful as possible, The Snowman is all over the place, as if he and his screenwriters cut out pages of Jo Nesbø’s book and decided to film them at random.

The plot is convoluted, with way too many side storylines going on for a film where you don’t care about the characters and the filmmakers aren’t up to the task of making it all makes sense anyway. Why does the movie need to have Charlotte Gainsbourg in here at all if all she’s going to do is have one of the most awkward sort-of sex scenes you’ll see all year and make bad choice after bad choice? Why is J.K. Simmons in this movie at all? Why did Chloë Sevigny get cast to play twin sisters when that doesn’t even remotely matter?

The weird thing about The Snowman is that it holds your attention because of the convoluted plot - while the killer’s identity is very predictable, it’s not entirely clear how Alfredson is going to pull all the disparate plot strands together (hint: he really doesn’t). There is something satisfyingly mystifying about it all, in a completely baffling way.

Fassbender is fine but doesn’t get to do a whole lot, even in the end where Alfredson forces him to run awkwardly through waist-deep snow in pursuit of a killer who dies in a way that is so outlandishly cliche - and in a way that Fassbender does nothing to assist, making us question once again why Harry Hole is even in this movie. Hehehe. Harry Hole.

As for Val Kilmer, the least said the better, but between looking like a crazy person and having his voice dubbed over for reasons I hope to find out, I hope he’s okay.

Long story short, The Snowman is a weird disaster of a film, a movie that is not without its satisfying oddities but still quite bad. The murder sequences are terrible, and not at all like what the trailers suggest, and the whole movie is both nonsensical and poorly made. When my mom, an avid murder mystery fan, can’t even muster up much praise, you know the best thing for The Snowman is a warm day where it can quickly melt away and be forgotten forever.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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