Film Review: “The Snowman”

“The Snowman” is a plodding mess, with about as much charm as freezerburn.

Val Kilmer is in this movie. It’s good to see him still working. Kilmer became something of a Hollywood punchline later in his career, as his severe good looks melted away, and he made some, let’s call them questionable, career choices. He has been on a bit of a comeback lately, taking on some smaller roles in movies despite his recent diagnosis of facial cancer.

In “The Snowman,” Kilmer plays a supporting role as this sort of lumpy, sad-sack alcoholic detective. Kilmer is relatively entertaining, and he stumbles around the screen, spraying vodka directly into his mouth from a sports bottle from his desk drawer.

That’s about the only good thing I can say about this terrible, terrible movie. If given the choice between watching “The Snowman” again and getting frostbite on my fingers and toes, I would have to think about it.

An adaptation of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo’s hard-boiled detective novel, this film follows Harry Hole (played by Michael Fassbender, who should have petitioned to get his character’s name changed in pre-production) as a troubled but brilliant homicide detective, with a serious taste for vodka and cliches. He leads a task force hunting a deranged serial killer, who is either called “The Snowman,” or perhaps just likes snowmen. It’s never quite explained in any coherent way.

Who makes up this elite task force, you ask? Well, there is Nameless Bearded Guy #1, who sleeps at his desk the whole movie. Also, it features the ever-talented Nameless Bearded Guy #2, who Googles things on his phone when asked. Rounding out this crack team is a junior detective (Rebecca Ferguson), who uses this opportunity to focus on her vendetta against local business tycoon Arve Stop (J.K. Simmons) instead of doing any actual investigation or police work.

This team is hunting a serial killer is set off by the falling snow (shocking! Also, based on the weather in Norway, he would probably kill about 200 people a year). He targets adulterous women based on some strange Oedipus complex from an abusive childhood. His calling card is — you guessed it — a little half-sized snowman, which is supposed to look vaguely sinister but instead looks so silly and contrived that it destroys any sense of suspense or danger.

Director Tomas Alfredson seems afraid to embrace any type of sexuality, suspense, or violence in “The Snowman”. When he actually does show us the grisly goods, it’s gratuitous and mostly unnecessary, lingering far too long on decapitated heads or fully clothed characters grinding awkwardly on each other.

This film wastes talented actors and some gorgeous Norwegian landscapes in a nearly criminal way. The screenplay reads like it was run through an outdated Google-translate program about 10 times, then filmed right away without edits. The dialogue is so inexplicably clunky and inhuman as to be almost artistic in its shittyness, and the stage direction feels like community theater for the mentally deranged.

“The Snowman” shows us that even A-list actors and acclaimed directors can’t overcome a god-awful script or a budget too small to afford decent CGI technology. Willingly watching “The Snowman” is an exercise in self-loathing; if you find yourself doing it, please seek help immediately.


Grade: D
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Rated: R

Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

One thought on “Film Review: “The Snowman”

  1. O dear
    This is the movie my wife wants me to take her to see on our ‘date-night’!! She’s a Nesbo fan of long-standing but it’s the books that she loves. Hope the film has enough Nesbo in it to keep her happy! I shall just smile and look serene!!

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