Movie Review: ‘The Snowman’

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones

Plot: Legendary detective and severe alcoholic Harry Hole gets drawn into a mystery surrounding missing women. He must seek out the connection between these disappearances and cold murder cases to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Review: Snowmen are not scary.

Whenever the murderer strikes he leaves a snowman at the scene of the crime. But they just sit there looking goofy, and for most of the film no-one makes the connection between them and the crimes. They also don’t have the coffee beans making up their mouths, which is something that comes up a couple of times but it ultimately meaningless. Maybe you find snowmen scary, but they always looked goofy to me.



What we have here is a best selling novel (the seventh in the series of eleven for some reason) by Jo Nesbø being brought to the screen by acclaimed director of Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy and supported by a talented ensemble cast all coming together to produce a tiresome and confusing thriller. All the pieces of a great movie are there – the twists, the themes, the photogenic setting, the flawed hero and menacing villain – but the pieces fail to fit together. It’s like a paint-by-numbers of the Mona Lisa. The basic outline exists but nothing brings it to life.


Michael Fassbender brings popular literary detective Harry Hole to life, getting introduced to audiences passed out drunk in a children’s playground. They appear to be going for the common archetype of character who is a drunk asshole but brilliant so he gets a free pass, but without the charisma and humour that let us enjoy these characters. Not that anyone in this movie behaves like a human being though. I’m not sure if something was lost in adaptation between page and screen, such as the character’s thought processes, but oftentimes the characters act in the most perplexing manner. If a woman appears happy with her current partner and her son has just run away from home, why has she gone round to her ex-husbands house to grind on him on the kitchen floor? The film is jam-packed with odd moments that leave you scratching your head.

Val Kilmer occasionally turns up in the movie in what initially seems like a different, unconnected plot and it’s…very strange. He’s heavily made up with what looks like Play-Doh making him barely recognisable as a human, and has a very poorly dubbed over deep voice. This is going to be a major talking point for film-goers, as this serious and dark thriller keeps cutting back to what appears to be Tommy Wiseau.


We don’t know what happened here. The film has turned out a mess, and considering how much of this initial trailer didn’t appear in the film at all we’re going out on a limb and suggesting that an anxious producer did some re-editing to make it marketable or part of an extended cinematic universe or something and ballsed it up proper.

Bonus for cinephiles – enjoy the audio Easter Egg referencing a classic 1930s serial killer movie that COMPLETELY REVEALS WHO THE KILLER IS. Yes, if you enjoy the works of Fritz Lang you get the added advantage of having the plot given away several scenes before the rest of the audience. Yay.

Norway looks nice though. Those bridges are cool.

Rating: THREE out of TEN