The Snowman. Where do I start? Well, it’s a film set in Oslo where none of the actors have a Norwegian accent. In fact, they sound very British. It has a serial killer who relies on snowmen as his calling card, but only relies on them some of the time. There’s an alcoholic detective who we never see drink. Oh, and Val Kilmer is kinda sorta in it. Take that how you may, but The Snowman is a mess.
The film begins with a boy greeting his abusive uncle, who’s really his father, who’s also a local police officer. This uncle/father/police officer then proceeds to test this kid on historical dates in Norwegian history. Clearly, this uncle is versed in torture tactics because no one should know the exact date of Norwegian king such and such’s rise to the thrown. All of this happens under the guise of his mother, who apparently doesn’t work and is a sex slave to this cop? Anyways, at some point the boy catches his mom and his “uncle” having sex, which causes the “uncle” to storm out, and pushes the mother to drive her and her son into the middle of a frozen lake. The ice on the lake cracks, the boy escapes, while the mother commits suicide by staying in the car. That’s the first five minutes.
The next shot is of Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) sleeping in a shed by a park. Hole is an alcoholic detective, who we’re never told why he’s an alcoholic. He also wishes there were more murders in Oslo because Norwegian citizens living long lifespans is apparently boring. Hole then meets Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), a new female detective who somehow has a lot confidential material on her, which has apparently gone undetected. Meanwhile, there’s a guy who’s stalking women, killing them, and then leaving snowmen in his wake.
Aside from the main storyline between Hole, Bratt, and the snowman killer, there are a few other scattered-brain moments. For one, Rafto (Val Kilmer) is another alcoholic detective who previously investigated a related murder. Obviously, Norway has a problem with alcoholic detectives. Nevertheless, it’s never explained why this serial killer apparently took an over 5-year break from killing.
Then, there’s the separate issue of Arve Stop (JK Simmons), a leading Norwegian business man who wants the winters game, preying on young women in his hotel room (Oh, the timing). Simmons is a fantastic actor, and he’s the only one who remotely tries some type of accent that makes sense with the region this film is set in, but I’m shocked that he didn’t see that he should have stayed far away from this movie. Lastly, there’s Hole’s ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who has a weird plastic surgeon boyfriend (Jonas Karlsson), who’s the antithesis of her punk background. Don’t we all? She also has a son, who Hole treats as his son (Michael Yates), but we’re not told if that is his son….even though it’s gestured toward.
There’s a lot of ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ in The Snowman. Typically, bad storytelling is when you put emphasis on something and you don’t follow through on it. The Snowman does that ten fold. I don’t understand how this script really made it past the editing stage. It could be that someone really had high hopes for it, and then you get a Fassbender attached to it, and you start overlooking things that don’t work….but there’s a lot in the story that got pushed aside. I mean, at one point Hole is prescribed pills by the creepy plastic surgeon, and throws them out the window of his apartment building. Coincidentally, the killer somehow catches this pill bottle and puts it back in Hole’s apartment the next day. Having too many coincidences is also a sign of bad writing.
Plus, most serial killers have a pattern. There’s no pattern in The Snowman. The killer uses shotguns in staged suicides, sometimes he cuts off people’s heads, and sometimes he just cuts off their finger and leaves the victim to freeze to death in the cold. I cannot believe that so many inconsistencies were left in this film. I haven’t even gotten into the mind-numbing dialog, or the weird specialist team that’s formed to hunt down the snowman killer and does nothing. They absolutely have no purpose but to sit in what looks like an old library and stare at random binders, while Hole and Bratt go off on their own individual adventures.
All-in-all, if you want to laugh at actors who are apparently clueless that they’re in the worst film of 2017, and that includes the Emoji movie, then go see The Snowman. I laughed all the way through, and it’s the only reason this film remotely got a 1/4 rating because it should have been a zero.
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Photo Credit: EW.com