The Snowman Movie Review
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I’m going to come right out and say it – this isn’t a good movie. You’re far better off getting the book and immersing yourself within the saga of Detective Harry Hole – I’m sure that name is really funny if you’re 12.
Detective Hole (Michael Fassbender) and new partner Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) land a missing person’s case and manage to link it to other missing persons’ cases. Women disappear when it snows (you know, in Oslo, so you figure they’ll be out of women soon) and sometimes they’re found but mostly they’re not. Rather than use their detective skills to uncover an actual pattern and solve a crime, they each scramble off on their own side investigations. Harry Hole (nope, still not funny) is burnt out and bored with life and Katrine has an irrational vendetta against a prominent doctor and his businessman patron both with their own secrets you also can’t be bothered to care about. There should be more to these characters than just “I Drink A Lot” Harry and “I’ll Abuse My Authority When It Suits Me” Katrine, but nope.
You might say, “but I like movies where I can’t figure out who the killer is until the end” and I do as well, except the point of a cinematic murder mystery playing out in front of you is piecing together the clues. There are no clues in The Snowman. We have an opening scene (which is ultimately incongruous to the killer and his motivations), characters with angry dialogue, characters who get decapitated, and we have a climax with the killer WHO MONOLOGUES (omg) and his explanation as to why he must do what he doesn’t dovetail with any of the preceding hour and forty-five minutes. Brilliant killers generally have better reasons.
Well, they have reasons.
If you’re a fan of police procedurals, even the completely unrealistic ones, you’re going to want to sit this one out. There’s sort of a pattern, but there really isn’t. The killer is inconsistent with his drop sites, his manner of disposal, the way he stages his victims. You know the scene in the trailer where you see the woman’s head on the snowman’s body? You’ll see that exactly once. Everything else the killer does isn’t to taunt (because no one else will see it), so his motivations are murky. Maybe he wants to be caught, maybe he doesn’t, we don’t know and we don’t care. If this movie were written by someone with a little more on the ball, we might be told that this was a disorganized killer with impulse issues. We might be told why Harry likes to drink or how he still has a job if no one seems to think he’s competent. You’ll have other questions, too, but feel free to email them to me so we can rant together. I’ll start a support group.
The Snowman is erratic and scenes are pasted one after the other as if the Shooting Schedule was the blueprint for the final product. We jump back and forth in time, first visiting our budding Snowman Killer, then a former detective on an older missing person’s case (a really rough looking and badly dubbed Val Kilmer), then our modern detectives and their crummy lives and back and forth until you’re cold, you’re checking your watch, and you wonder if the ushers will kick you out for downloading the book on your phone and reading while the rest of the movie plays out. The director, Tomas Alfredson, has already blamed a rushed and incomplete shooting schedule, claiming 10-15% of the script wasn’t shot.
So who do we blame for the 85% that was?
If you must see a serial killer movie set in the snow, may I recommend Iced (1998), Ravenous (1998), My Little Eye (2002), or The Weather Station (2015).
The Snowman opens Friday, October 20, 2017, and is Rated R for violence against women, some decapitations, rifle headshots, swears and a nipple.