Consider the following a public service announcement: If you value your time, money and sanity, don’t watch “The Snowman.”
Sure it’s directed by Tomas Alfredson, who’s done critically acclaimed films like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “Let The Right One In,” boasts an all-star cast and is based off a best-selling novel.
It may sound like a foolproof combination, but somehow they found a way to screw it up.
Theoretically, “The Snowman” is a thriller that follows detective Harry Hole, played by Michael Fassbender, as he investigates the disappearance of a woman in the snowy town of Oslo. When he suspects this was the work of a serial killer, appropriately called the Snowman Killer, he teams up with new recruit Katrine Brett, played by Rebecca Ferguson, to solve the case.
The plot sounds intriguing and strikes the same chord as some classic crime films, like David Fincher’s “Se7en,” so why is “The Snowman” so awful?
Well, that’s where the word “theoretically” comes in. When you go to the theater to watch a thriller, it’s natural to assume the movie will offer excitement. “The Snowman” doesn’t offer any thrills at all. What it does offer is an overtly convoluted mess that feels like a chore to sit through.
First off, “The Snowman” lacks any flow or rhythm. Scenes begin and end almost at random and don’t add up to anything. You could easily take any scene, place it at any point in the film and it would make about as much sense.
It doesn’t help that the film gets bogged down by subplots that have nothing to do with the main story. There’s a shady businessman, played by J.K. Simmons, making a bid for the town to host the next Winter Sports World Cup. Next there’s Hole’s struggle with alcoholism and his family. Not only that, there’s a series of flashbacks telling the story of another detective investigating the killer.
None of these plots tie together in any meaningful way, and some are dropped entirely with no explanation, resulting in “The Snowman” lacking any sort of focus. The only purpose these subplots serve is to keep you guessing on who the killer is. Unfortunately, if you’re a person with a pulse you’ll be able to figure out who the culprit is less than 30 minutes into the film.
Now maybe all of this could be alleviated if the performances were good, especially considering Fassbender has been nominated for two Academy Awards. However his performance is shockingly tired. It feels like he’s sleeping through his role. This also applies to Ferguson, who’s about as energetic as a snail.
On the bright side, the film looks pretty. The cinematography is mesmerizing with stunning landscape shots mixed with a color palette of blues and greens that add to the cold look of “The Snowman.” But to say this fixes the film would be like saying wrapping a broken leg in rainbow colored gauze fixes it.
But worst of all the film is a complete bore to sit through. “The Snowman” just meanders and then sort of ends without any build-up or payoff, and then has the gall to set up a sequel.
The only time I’d recommend “The Snowman” is if you’re in need of a sleep aid. And even then, you’re probably better off counting sheep.