The Snowman is a thriller with a stellar cast and proudly boasts production by film great Martin Scorsese. Michael Fassbender leads an ensemble cast as detective Harry Hole. Harry grapples with alcoholism and struggles to catch a serial killer across frozen Norway. If you read that and thought, “Hey that sounds like it might be good!” You’re wrong, dead wrong. It's terrible.
The trailer for the film tries desperately to adopt the tone of a serious dark thriller, but I laughed out loud when I saw it. It’s difficult to be intimidated by the premise of a serial killer who puts snowman's heads on victim's headless bodies. The director tries so hard to make the film tense and scary but it ends up simply being a farce. Unfortunately, the film isn’t even ‘so bad it’s good’. It’s just boring. The cat and mouse serial killer and detective trope is well worn out. A good mystery can hook you and hold your attention, and an interesting villain can add an extra layer of entertainment and investment to the plot. When done right, this formula can be great (like Norwegian adaptation Insomnia), but when done wrong it’s derivative garbage. Ironically, The Snowman is adapted from an international literary bestseller. It is the seventh in a series of detective novels (the Harry Hole series) by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. I can only presume he disowned this drivel upon viewing it.
I’m grasping to find things I liked about the movie but I can’t even do that. The story is like a hybrid of three different films mashed together with all the grace of a bull in a china shop and just as much finesse. The direction is mostly static and the characters deliver their lines in monotone voices with as much life as the corpses they are investigating. The mystery isn’t interesting and the identity of the killer is laughable. The casting is pretty good but the actors, led by Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole, and the fantastic Rebecca Ferguson as his partner, struggle with a cliché plot and terrible script. Fassbender, in particular, seems to be coasting through the film, which is disappointing, considering his acting prowess. J.K Simmons, Toby Jones, and Val Kilmer are lost in the background and languish in this film. Without an interesting plot, confusing and bumbling direction, and an absence of characters that we can care about, what are we left with? The answer is two hours of your life you won’t get back.
There’s nothing about The Snowman that’s redeemable. It’s not even comically bad. The plot is tedious and dull, and the characters are cliché and unlikable despite the general quality of the actors. It’s remarkable that this film was adapted from an international bestseller. The filmmakers had the book as a guide but still screwed this it up. I’m honestly shocked that Scorsese kept his name on the film. He must have been contractually obligated. If you’re in the mood for a real thriller set in a frozen wasteland then go see Taylor Sheridan’s much better Wind River. Save your money and stay away from The Snowman.
TLDR: The Snowman is a slow, boring, and cumbersome film. Avoid. 1/5 Stars.