HOLLYWOOD—I desperately wanted to like this movie, I mean after seeing the trailer to “The Snowman.” My first gut reaction was this is going to be a visceral psychological thriller. Well, I was so, so wrong America. The movie is adapted from the popular novel by Jo Nesbo.
The movie stars Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole, who is grappling with some of his own personal demons, as a killer begins targeting women in a small town of Oslo, particularly those who have children. Our protagonist has a bit of a clever mind with his FBI training, and is dealing with deep personal issues surrounding his divorce and his children. It’s one thing to divorce someone; it’s another to divorce them and to constantly have to see them in the workplace. On top of that, he utilizes alcohol as a crutch to grapple with his problems.
The lure of the narrative is that this elusive killer is specifically leaving clues for Detective Hole to catch him before he strikes again. The problem with “The Snowman” is that it feels like a film that attempts to be smart, when all honesty a lot of the madness that unfolds is simply silly, unwarranted and unbelievable. The setting works to capture the notion of a small town where plenty of people might be keeping secrets.
It is ironic and kind of funny that our notable killer’s calling card is a ‘snowman’ and in some disturbing images encases his victims into the face of an actual snowman. Assisting Detective Hole in his mission to capture the killer, is a new recruit to the department Katrine Bratt portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson. Now, let’s be crystal clear: “The Snowman” does not in any way lack star caliber talent. I mean you have Fassbender, Ferguson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones and Chloe Sevigny people.
The big problem is the talent is wasted beyond what you can imagine. The bigger issue at play is the fact that as a viewer, one could care less about these characters. The dialogue feels cheat, contrived and stale, and when it comes to the plot, this is a movie that attempts to craft itself similar to the iconic thriller “Se7en,” but lacks the nuance, wit and eeriness that film captured so effortlessly with just two major stars.
A smart element to the movie is the idea of a killer who goes dormant only to return years later to reignite their killing spree, but the script fails to utilize that motif to its advantage to draw the viewer in. That might be the result of having too many cooks working on the screenplay and not being faithful to the iconic novel by Nesbo.
One might suspect the movie has a surprise of a reveal with the identity of the killer, but that is not so considering the film makes it quite obvious who the culprit is if you just pay attention to the film. The pacing causes the story to drag much longer than it should and “The Snowman” just freezes the audience cold in their tracks. You want to care, but no matter what this is a film that you wish melts quicker before it gets colder and colder over time.