The Snowman (2017)
Critic Consensus: A mystery that feels as mashed together and perishable as its title, The Snowman squanders its bestselling source material as well as a top-notch ensemble cast.
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as Harry Hole
as Katrine Bratt
as Gert Rafto
as Arve Støp
as Sylvia Ottersen
as Filip Becker
as Idar Vetlesen
as Beautiful Girl
as Superintendant Skarre
as DCI Gunnar Hagen
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Critic Reviews for The Snowman
... the movie itself is an inept misfire - the kind of entrancing train wreck that makes you long for a behind-the-scene tell-all to explain what, exactly, went so wrong.
How did a delicious Scandinavian noir novel go so spectacularly wrong on screen?
Not a single scene works as anything more than a total waste of good film.
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.
Audience Reviews for The Snowman
ABOMINABLE- My Review of THE SNOWMAN (1/2 Star) Although completely random, I saw likely the worst and the best movie of the year today. More on the latter in my next review, so let's concentrate on the stinker. THE SNOWMAN had all of its ducks in a row to be great. Director Tomas Alfredson helmed the classic LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, its writers Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Søren Sveistrup have such credits as DRIVE, TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY, and THE KILLING and the film is based on the Norwegian bestseller by Jo Nesbø. The strong cast, which includes Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg and J.K. Simmons, typically delivers great work. But wait, this film has two incredible editors? Thelma Schoonmaker has edited many of Martin Scorsese's greatest films while Claire Simpson won the Oscar for PLATOON. Isn't one enough? And then, upon its release, Alfredson, probably in an attempt to distance himself from the film, has said that 10-15% of the script had not been shot. Uh oh. Trouble in paradise. What should have been a classic serial killer thriller with the added value of its gorgeous Scandinavian settings has sadly amounted to a truly boring, truly terrible, borderline incomprehensible slog with some gorgeous Scandinavian settings (the 1/2 star in my review is only for what are surely second unit shots of mountains, snow, and gravity-defying twisty roads and bridges). The opening sequence alone baffled me. Set decades ago, a mother and her young son suffer at the hands of a sadistic police officer. The trauma of this experience is meant to show us the motivation of a future serial killer, but I didn't quite understand what I was watching. Somehow, we're supposed to understand that from this, the killer would want to build Snowmen at every crime scene. Um, sure, I think? Cut to the present and we meet Michael Fassbender as a drunken mess waking up in a shack in the wintry snow of Oslo. He plays detective Harry Hole (and no, I'm not making that up), who doesn't seem to have the will to pursue another case. Harry has enough problems in his personal life, that he simply can't be bothered when Ferguson is assigned to work with him on the case of the Snowman Killer, who has a penchant for murdering promiscuous single moms. Can Harry get his groove back in time to catch the killer? On paper, this sounds solid enough, but the execution is a shambles. Every time we zoom in on one of the snowmen, the music cues sound like they've been lifted from an episode of MR. BILL. It's tremendously silly, but at least it's something. The rest of this film is lifeless. Fassbender and Ferguson catatonically stroll from clue to clue and periodically we flash back to an earlier time when Val Kilmer was on the case. These flashbacks feel plunked in without any real purpose and Kilmer's voice appears to have been dubbed. I suppose his investigation ties into the main story, but I was beyond the point of caring. Tedium sets in early and stays that way throughout. By the time the killer is revealed, I sighed in relief merely because it meant the film was almost over. It all makes sense in a boilerplate, crime procedural way, but there's such a disconnect between storytelling and excitement, a Tower Of Babel level of disparate attempts at Norwegian accents (some go British while others attempt some sort of regional dialect). There's a nifty attempt at something visceral with the killer using a coiled retracting zip wire to strangle his victims, slicing off heads and limbs in the process. Chloë Sevigny shows up as a pair of twins who like to chop the heads off of chickens, and the less said about that the better. I just kept thinking about the pedigree of this cast and crew and wondered how amazing it must have looked on paper. I love the serial killer genre, and cinematographer Dion Beebe contributes some staggeringly beautiful shots. I suppose the film is about breaking the cycle of abuse, but it's a muddled mess best left forgotten. Everyone involved has done and will do amazing work on other projects. Let's be grateful for that!
When meshing multiple genres together, it can be quite the challenge to please fans of each, but it's been done very well in the past. With the right amount of effort put, multiple genre films can be some of the best out there. Whether you're talking about Gone Girl being a Crime/Thriller or Hot Fuzz being an Action/Comedy, genre crossovers can be a real joy to see on-screen. The Snowman is the most recent film to mix genres, delivering a Horror/Thriller vibe, with a very large portion falling into the Mystery category as well. Sadly, this movie feels hollow, empty, and unfinished. With such a stellar cast and crew working on this movie, there's no reason for a movie like this to be terrible, but let me just start by saying this is one of the worst films of the year. The Snowman fails as a piece of compelling storytelling, as well as doing anything new for its genre. Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Snowman follows detective Harry Hole as he investigates mysterious disappearances. Joined by detective Katrine Bratt, the two realize that the kidnapper/killer has been dismembering their victims and leaving traces in the form of snowmen. That's the simplest way to explain this film without spoiling or making it sound too ridiculous, because trust me, the twist and how the twist occurs is quite dumb in terms of storytelling. This film went through many issues when being filmed, but then why the major release? Quite honestly, this film deserved to be sent straight to home video, because everything from its clunky screenplay to its choppy editing felt off. Your movie makes it into post-production and is now being made into the best possible version it can be (hopefully), so why is it that it still turns out to look like a two-hour trailer that breezes past crucial plot points? There are multiple occasions throughout the course of this film that sequences feel missing. Although certain reveals are easily spottable throughout the first two acts, the movie asks you to patiently wait until the final 15-20 minutes in order to really invest yourself in the plot twists. That would've been fine if the story kept you on the edge of your seat, but not much of anything is truly that interesting throughout the first two acts. Yes, the premise itself could've lent itself to an interesting film overall, but it was only the performances that kept me from wanting to leave the theatre. I'm a huge fan of Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson. Although Ferguson hasn't really been all that present in the world of motion pictures for as long as Fassbender (at least in the mainstream spotlight), I find her work to be wonderful. Whether it's being a badass heroin in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation or giving a devoted dramatic performance in the lukewarm The Girl on the Train, she has proven herself to have some range. Fassbender is pretty likable in everything he does, so that should come as no surprise, but I'm honestly only gushing over these two performers because the film itself doesn't have much to lend a compliment to. I found myself incredibly bored with its pacing and lack of an inciting incident to really get me invested. In the end, there is a salvage score to keep the film's tone in line, a lot of the cinematography is well-done, and the performances seem to be devoted to their respective roles. That being said, the screenplay, along with the overall editing and final product, just doesn't match up to any of those aspects. The film feels like one long movie trailer for a ten-episode television series. The worst part is that you can see where the film could've been improved upon, which makes rewatching it impossible. There isn't a scenario in which I'll ever find myself recommending this movie to anyone. The Snowman is a neat idea that is stretched into a two-hour film that feels too long, while also feeling incomplete. A disappointing film to say the least.
When you make a crime-mystery-thriller, there are a few things you must do if you want to keep your audience attentive. Pace the film where the thrills are present enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, make the crime(s) impactful enough to care for the characters involved, and create a mystery that questions every turn that every character makes. The Snowman doesn't do a single one of those things. I saw the review scores before I spent my 2 hours on this film, but I love Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson enough to give them the benefit of the doubt and support their acting choices. Unfortunately, it's not them where the problems lie. Both of them are equally serviceable in their respected roles, however, the direction is absolutely lackluster to say the least. I haven't seen Tomas Alfredson's other films, but they have been acclaimed by the viewers. After seeing The Snowman, it seems like he just had no interest in telling a cohesive and well-thought out crime film. The film is overly confusing and lacks anything of interest to keep the plot going. Typically, it's make or break in terms of the lead serial killer/villain in these types of films. The "Snowman Killer" contains one of the laziest and nonsensical twists/reveals I have seen in quite some time. As if the movie wasn't frustrating to that point, the moment you find out who is pulling the strings really puts the movie completely over the rails. As with most bad films, I don't like wasting much energy on them, so all I'll say is that this film is a complete waste of time and opportunity. Talented actors and others are involved in the making of The Snowman, and it doesn't seem like anybody cared to bring their A-game. 3.0/10
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