Look, you know me. I want to see talented people make things together. When I heard that Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let The Right One In) was directing a serial killer film with Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson, I was absolutely on board. Clearly I was excited to see this movie, as you can see right here.
Well, pobody’s nerfect, huh?
It really should’ve worked. The Snowman has so many things going for it even beyond the talented cast and crew. The basic idea of the plot is that a detective (Fassbender) and a brilliant recruit (Ferguson) join forces to investigate a missing woman, only to find that she was the victim of a serial killer. There’s obviously more going on to the plot, but I really don’t feel like I need to discuss it too much to delve into the issues with this film.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW NOTHING OF THE PLOT, YOU MIGHT AS WELL SKIP THIS REVIEW, BUT I ALSO WON’T BE GOING DEEP INTO SPOILERS
Whatever that meant, you’ve been warned regardless.
So, the opening scene features the man who will become the Snowman Killer as a young boy. His uncle physically abuses both him and his mother, and this causes him to make a weird snowman out of frustration or something. He goes back inside and hears the two having sex (don’t worry, the man isn’t actually his uncle). When they’re discovered, the man leaves angrily. Mom and son follow him for a while in a car, but she lets go of the wheel and the car drives onto a frozen lake. The boy gets out of the car but the mother refuses, and she sinks through the ice with the car.
This. Entire. Scene. Means. Basically. Nothing.
All we need to know is that he’s mad at his mom for dying, and that the other man was secretly his father. We don’t even learn why he has a weird obsession with snowmen. It just happens and we have to accept it.
Speaking of snowmen, the trailer very clearly calls him “The Snowman Killer”. A line of dialogue from Michael Fassbender is: “He calls himself the Snowman Killer, he’s insane.” Want to know a fun fact? That never happens in the movie. In fact, he is literally never once called the Snowman Killer. Ever. So there’s that too.
Our introduction to Fassbender’s character (Harry Hole, I get it, funny joke) immediately reveals him to be a drunk, and he wakes up basically on a bench near a playground. Hmm, interesting stuff, seems like that will lead to some development and possibly an arc, right? Nope, swing and a miss there. We just hear about he’s a drunk a few more times and it never matters.
Chloe Sevigny plays twins in basically just two scenes, one scene for each twin. She is then promptly forgotten. JK Simmons is a character in fairly high power who is CLEARLY a villain. Not THE villain, but A villain for sure. We see him do shady things and we infer even worse, but nothing whatsoever comes of it. There’s no closure, there’s no resolution, there’s not even really any investigation into his deeds.
Also Val Kilmer is in this movie a little bit. I don’t want to be the person who talks or cares about things like this, but he does NOT look good. Perhaps some bad work done to his face, but he could barely emote. His lips couldn’t move enough to get the dialogue out clearly enough. I suppose it’s possible for this to be a weird character decision, but it certainly wasn’t a good one.
By now, a good deal of you are aware of what director Tomas Alfredson has been saying about working on The Snowman. You can find part of an interview here where he claims to have not been able to shoot 10-15% of the script. Alfredson said “It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture.” There are clearly things missing from the film, but I can’t imagine that the final 15% of the script would be enough to save this film.
I didn’t even address the silly “Mister Police” note, which comes up at the beginning and is never again addressed. It was used on almost every single poster for the film, and it plays no role in the story other than telling Fassbender that something is up at the very beginning. That’s it.
I really wanted to like The Snowman. I wanted it to be another film that everyone else was wrong about and I could be the champion that the film needed and deserved, but I’m not allowed to have nice things. I asked the world for an Alfredson/Fassbender collaboration, and I have received this horribly misguided and confused film in return.
At least you still get to look at Michael Fassbender for two hours.
The Snowman: 3/10
If you want to hear me make a brief and silly joke about the climactic scene, scroll past this picture.
This is basically the second to last scene. Fassbender is on the left, the killer is on the right with a gun. The killer slowly approaches our lead detective as he reveals the identity of his real father, only angering the killer even further. Fassbender has not surveyed the ice before now, but he suddenly looks down as the killer approaches as if he had a plan the whole time. The killer steps into what appears to already be a partial hole and then falls through it, never to be seen again.
This is what I like to call:
Deus Ice Machina.
Thank you for your time.