Movie Review: The Snowman


Mister Police. You could have saved this movie. It gave you all the parts.

Even a stellar cast led by Michael Fassbender and featuring Oscar winner JK Simmons couldn’t save this movie. Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) used his keen eye to capture the stark beauty of its setting of Norway, but even that couldn’t make up for some pretty glaring problems.

Fassbender plays Oslo detective Harry Hole on the trail of a serial murderer whose signature is always leaving behind a snowman. Given the pedigree of the film — based on the novel by Jo Nesbø, directed by Alfredson — one would hope the end product would be better.

Instead, it is cliched and predictable. Any mystery where you can correctly guess who the culprit is so early in the film is just not worth it. Our audience even laughed at several key moments that were meant to induce dread or show menace — always a bad sign that your film may be sliding into Tommy Wiseau’s The Room territory.

According to director Alfredson, they ended up not being able to shoot 10-15% of the script, leaving it “like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture.” When a director as skilled as Alfredson feels robbed of the tools to make their vision a reality, that’s a bad sign. Or perhaps it’s a sign of a director making excuses for a film they know not to be up to snuff.

Either way, it’s troubling. And it would be hard to conceive of this film being 10-15% longer. Clocking in at just under two hours, it feels interminably longer.

And while most of the actors here are fairly solid, an almost unrecognizable Val Kilmer pulls us out of the movie with a jarring performance that seems just off. Given the actor’s battles with throat cancer, it’s obvious his lines were dubbed in post production. But the vocal performances don’t always quite line up, making it seem more like an old kung fu movie. You hope Kilmer is able to fully recover from his health problems, because this would be a shame to be his final on-screen performance.

It’s sad that a film that should have been The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo meets Zodiac meets Let the Right One In is more Manos! Hands of Fate. Like that film, this should be enjoyable to hear the Rifftrax commentary, but not for much else. At a time when your options at the theaters includes Blade Runner 2049 and the surprisingly fun and campy Happy Death Day, don’t choose The Snowman. 

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5