Thursday 19 October 2017

Film Review: The Snowman

Tomas Alfredson’s thriller The Snowman starts out solid but quickly melts into a murky puddle.

Based on the book of the same name by Jo Nesbø, The Snowman sees Michael Fassbender play Harry Hole, a hard-boiled detective on the trail of a mysterious killer tearing through Oslo.

Like many detectives, Harry is a scruffy, alcoholic, chain-smoking insomniac who only has something to live for when he has a case to dedicate himself too. As luck would have it, a case lands in his lap when Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) rolls into town with a cold case that needs thawing out.

Soon a pattern begins to emerge; the killer leaves a snowman at the scene of the crime as his calling card, which as MO’s go is pretty shit to be honest. A rose or playing card is much easier. Anyway, as Harry and Katrine delve deeper into the string of chilling killings, things begin to snowball and get out of hand. 

If, like me, you were hankering for a slick Scandinavian thriller packed to the rafters with grisly killings then you’ll find that need only serviced by half; The Snowman is undeniably gory and macabre, with limbs and decapitations left, right and centre. What it clearly lacks is polish, with the cinematography feeling flat and pallid, the editing disjointed and the overall execution sorely lacking across the board.

The script, penned by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Søren Sveistrup, can be commended for not spoon-feeding audiences exposition but joining the dots is something of a chore when the narrative lurches from scene to scene with little forward momentum to speak of. The editing is the guilty culprit here, entering and ending scenes in odd ways and robbing the film of that all-important rhythm that keeps you engrossed.

Strangely Alfredson often chooses to shoot a number of scenes from a distance, such as through a window from the outside looking in. It creates an icy detachment to the characters at a point where we should be getting under their skin and learning to care for their troubles. Ultimately, The Snowman is deathly boring, especially during its meandering second act.

Fassbender is a good fit for the role but is given very little to work with outside of the cookie-cutter loose cannon cop archetype. The same can be said of Ferguson, who has an interesting arc until it freezes, dead in its tracks. JK Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloë Sevigny and (weirdly) Val Kilmer complete an ensemble in which no one truly shines. 

The Snowman will sorely disappoint anyone holding out for a taut and compelling thriller in the same vein as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Se7en

In the hands of a maestro like David Fincher this concept could have gone the distance, but as it stands the creative team it was lumped with haven’t made it work and the result is a squelchy and cold procedural that is leagues below TV fare like Broadchurch or Top of the Lake. My recommendation is to let this one wash away and be forgotten.

The Verdict: 4/10

A lot of talent goes to waste in The Snowman. It's dull, flat and has been done before and much better. A shame.

The Snowman is in cinemas across Australia from today, Thursday October 19. 


  1. Oh damn that score is horrible. I was really hoping this film would be better. :(



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