Director Tomas Alfredson could have saved it. He had plenty of tools: a star-studded cast, a best-selling murder novel by Jo Nesbø and an Oscar winning editor. So why is “The Snowman” such a jumbled, nonsensical mess?
It’s a film that deals with extreme, distressing violence against women, and that proper care wasn’t taken to make sure that this story was told the right way is troubling.
“The Snowman” has everything (just not a coherent plot): creepy abortion doctors, human trafficking, really bad Scandinavian techno, Michael Fassbender passed out in the snow, a terrible wig on Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny chopping heads off chickens, J.K. Simmons attempting a Norweigan-ish accent, Val Kilmer singing “Happy Birthday” while chugging vodka, and of course, the bloodiest, most macabre snowmen ever.
It’s clear from the opening scenes that “The Snowman” is off. It’s edited within an inch of its life, cutting into and away from shots and scenes abruptly, with so much dialogue scotch-taping everything together it sounds like the movie is dubbed.
It doesn’t help that the film looks terrible, and the screenplay makes very little sense. Subplots are picked up and abandoned, characters that seem important fade away, motivations are never, ever clearly spelled out.
Fassbender plays drunken dirtbag detective Harry Hole (yes, real name, delivered with a straight face always), who stays on the straight and narrow only when he has a case. Women start to go missing in Oslo, and Harry lands a new partner, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), an investigator with a penchant for pilfering cold case files, especially ones concerning a drunken dirtbag detective (Kilmer) back in her hometown.
The story flips back and forth for some reason between her hometown a decade earlier and present-day Oslo, drawing connections between the missing women and a high-powered businessman (Simmons).
Among all of this is some truly gruesome imagery and unimaginable violence deployed cavalierly, primarily against women. Our antihero Hole is himself a bit of a boor, roughing up his female partner to make a point, because he’s got to save the day his way.
With a perplexing tale and some very odd creative choices, it’s so easy to laugh at “The Snowman,” but this kind of tale shouldn’t inspire laughter.
Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity.