A cold, heartless time at the movies in all the wrong ways: “The Snowman” review

The Snowman

Un-ironically naming the main character Harry Hole probably wasn’t the best idea.

The Snowman is a new movie (one we apologetically included on our honorable mentions for top ten films we were still looking forward to in 2017. Oh how wrong we were) starring Michael Fassbender that’s coming out this weekend, one that you should probably avoid at all costs.

From Universal Pictures and director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Let the Right One In), The Snowman is a crime ‘thriller’ that’s trying to be in the same vein as Seven and Insomnia. It’s not. 

Inspector Harry Hole (Fassbender) works as a detective in Oslo, Norway. Apparently he’s some sort of drunk recluse with a haunted past, but what the past actually is we don’t know because the movie doesn’t bother telling us.

However, he’s recently been assigned a new case — the hunt for the dreaded, maniacal snowman killer. Someone is running around the city and killing people, usually women with complicated family issues, and then leaving behind a series of clues for Hole to find. These clues mostly come in the form of a small, little snowman left at the scene of the crime. Again, don’t ask us how the killer has time to build a snowman during these moments, because we really don’t know what’s going on with this movie.

The Snowman
credit: Youtube

Hole (I’m sorry, but that name will never not be funny) teams up with new detective Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) to try and solve the case. The result is a long and boring movie with some astonishingly bad editing and storylines that make no sense.

A few days prior to the release of The Snowman, Tomas Alfredson — who by all accounts is a good director, which is what makes the quality of this film even more baffling — told NKR (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) that “Our shoot time in Norway was way too short, we didn’t get the whole story with us and when we started cutting we discovered that a lot was missing.” He went on to say that around 10-15 percent of the screenplay wasn’t actually filmed.

A couple things with that statement. First of all: a director releasing a statement before their film is even be released that basically says the movie doesn’t make any sense and they aren’t happy with it is a bad sign. Always. If the creators behind the film can’t even endorse their project, why should we pay to see it?

Secondly, while Alfredson says 10-15 percent of the movie is missing, it feels a lot more like 40-45 percent. There are moments in The Snowman that make no sense and go absolutely nowhere. For example: J.K. Simmons plays some sort of public figure — one who’s trying to promote Oslo for the World Cup or something like that — who’s doing shady business. He’ll randomly and noticeably take pictures of women in public, and then walk away like nothing happened. This story line is never expanded upon. It never leads anywhere. It just exists, for no reason whatsoever.

The Snowman
credit: Youtube

And Simmons is only the tip of the iceberg. Around half of the scenes in this movie end with the audience wondering ‘what was the point of that?’ This includes random scenes of an absurd rock concert, a woman who decides to sleep with Fassbender’s character completely out of the blue and so much more.

Along with an absolutely dreadful storyline, the characters in The Snowman are all thinly written. Everyone is identified by their job and whether they have kids, and no more. We’re never given any reason or motivation for anyone’s actions.

Fassbender, who has never needed to be cast in a good movie again so badly (while I like Alien: Covenant, there hasn’t been a movie Fassbender has been in we’ve all universally liked since Steve Jobs, back in 2015). His character is flat and Fassbender doesn’t show any real emotion while playing him. Ferguson, another talented actress, is more or less the same.

credit: Youtube

Then there’s Val Kilmer — yes, Batman himself is in this movie — which is another head-scratcher. Val Kilmer’s character only lives in flashbacks, all of which are messily handled and unnecessary. But there’s even more. All of Val Kilmer’s lines have been dubbed, for some reason. And there has never been a more obvious, noticeably out-of-sync case of dubbing in a major Hollywood film, ever. People in the theater were laughing at how poorly it lined up.

That’s not the only case of poor filmmaking involved in The Snowman either. While some of the cinematography is actually quite good, the editing — which can be noticed from the opening scenes — is all over the place. There’s unnecessary jump cut after unnecessary jump cut, to the point where it’s likely going to give you a headache. During the scenes in which people are actually moving, it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on.

The good news is that there aren’t a whole lot of scenes of people moving, because The Snowman is a slow drag of film. The film is based on a novel by Jo Nesbø, which apparently people love. It doesn’t, however, translate over to the screen very well at all. The Snowman is too boring to care about and too illogical to actually make sense when you try to care.

So, no, we do not want to build a snowman. Ever. Again.

Watch the trailer for The Snowman here and, should you unadvisedly chose to see it this weekend, let us know what you thought in the comments below:

A cold, heartless time at the movies in all the wrong ways: "The Snowman" review
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.