“The Snowman” wants to be many things.
Several different directions are packed into a two-hour run, with no fundamental direction or attempt to make them mesh together cohesively. What results is a mess.
Michael Fassbender (“Alien Covenant,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) plays Detective Hole, an alcoholic cop who receives a mysterious letter from a killer who calls himself The Snowman. When corpses of women start to turn up, Hole and a rookie cop (Rebecca Ferguson, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”) must resurrect a similar cold case to find the killer and bring him to justice.
The opening scene of “The Snowman” effectively displays the fundamental issues that plague the film. The acting and writing are awful. Every second feels forced, attempting desperately to establish a dark thematic presence but failing miserably. With no context for some elements, the opening scenes are off-putting and confusing for those who haven’t read the book from which the movie was adapted.
The film also isn’t exactly clear when a scene is a flashback or a part of the main storyline. This leads to a confusing narrative that meanders directionless through nearly two hours of film.
“The Snowman” would be watchable if it only knew what kind of movie it wanted to be.
The film’s introduction suggests it’s an introspective look into the mind of a killer. However, it doesn’t attempt to explain or focus on the killer’s motives. It could be a dark thriller, but with an inability to be shocking or unnerving, “The Snowman” falls far short of films like “Gone Girl” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” If it’s a murder mystery, then it’s a terrible mystery, since very little time is actually devoted to solving the murders. When the killer’s identity is discovered, the revelation literally comes out of nowhere.
The film is a mess, and is littered with annoyances:
- The main character’s name is Harry Hole — I’ll just let that sink in.
- Val Kilmer’s lines are dubbed over (poorly) for no apparent reason.
- The movie takes place in Norway yet everyone has British accents.
- The disgraceful color correction gives every scene an ugly magenta hue.
Finally, Fassbender plays one of the most cliched characters in this lazy whodunit genre: the alcoholic cop who was recently dumped by his girlfriend.
With all that being said, the cinematography could be, occasionally, really beautiful. Some shots are stunning, showcasing the beautiful locale of Norway.
It’s a shame that this movie was as exceptionally bad as it is. There was potential and it was squandered by poor filmmaking, offensively bad writing and a lack of a general direction. Skip it!