Winter is coming and with it a serial killer in tow. Based on the crime fiction novels by best selling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø, The Snowman tells the story of Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), a once great detective who is driven to despair by his demons.
After hitting rock bottom (or bottom of the vodka bottle), Harry begs his superiors to give him the next big case in hopes that it will pull him out of his pit of despair. Enter his lifeline in the form of Agent Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), newly assigned to the case of a missing mother. What starts off as a simple investigation leads the two into a cat and mouse game with a killer, with the only clue being his signature calling card, a snowman.
The trailer for The Snowman prompted quite a bit of intrigue, but unfortunately the finished product is a confusing story with not a lot of substance. There are so many stories being told and yet it feels like you are only ever given half the information. There are at two main layers to the backstory; one is of a battered woman who is driven to her very wits' end and willingly plunges her car into the icy waters, her son having escaped the “accident” is then left behind to witness her untimely death.
The next is of a case that happened nine years earlier in the small town of Bergan. Where, yep you guessed it, another alcoholic detective is investigating a case of a woman’s murdered and dismembered body found in the snow. Both these stories are connected are to the present yet the film takes a very long time to finally arrive at an “ah ha moment," only to have it serve as an understanding of the motive for the killer more than a significant revelation in the movie.
I can’t fault Director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, Let The Right One in) and team in their directorial style, capturing the bleakness and isolation of the characters through his stunning scenery. From the blinding white snow of the country side or to the cool white lights of the city buildings, it almost feels clinical. What Alfredson‘s film lacks to create is any type of variations in mood, leaving the audience as cold as the snow on screen. I felt so far removed that I didn’t really care (or care to understand) these characters, and with such a well know cast it was just disappointing.
Val Kilmer was just a bloated former image of himself who had weirdly been dubbed for what seemed like most of his screen time, Chloë Sevigny who’s made a career out of playing bizarre characters hit probably an all time low as a pair of twin chicken farmers. What really annoyed me though was the fact that not one character displayed any type of accent besides English or American despite the fact the story is based in Norway.
My main gripe with this film however was the killer's motive; it was just a cop out. I was so angered by the revelation that I actually just stoped paying attention. I don’t want to give it away but it truly does go to show why woman are fighting for equality and the end to sexual harassment, to the right to be in control of our bodies and not being shamed for our life choices.
I don't want too seem to harsh; there are a few highlights - mainly grisly murder scenes involving decapitating one victim or another’s head ( I thought this was supposed to be a horror/thriller anyway) but really this just showed where it could have gone if only the crew had of had enough time to finish the film the way it was intended instead of the patchwork feature we are presented with.
What’s the point if you can’t give the audience a complete picture? I wonder if The Snowman is just a case of missed opportunities or was if perhaps the director and material simply didn’t mesh.
The Snowman is in Australian cinemas now.