Tomas Alfredson, director of “The Snowman”, has recently claimed that he was unable to film an estimated 10-15% of what he wanted to shoot for the movie. That seems like a low estimate. There’s no possible way that adding 15% more footage to “The Snowman” would improve upon the finished product. The mere idea of adding anything more to this mind-boggling dumpster fire of a thriller sounds exhausting.
It’s a bit shameful for Alfredson to be so openly trashing a movie that he directed, even if it was torpedoed prior to filming or even during editing. If you discard the nonsensical plot and bevy of subplots that become nothing more than confusing distractions, Alfredson’s direction has pulled some dour, bland performances from some actors with a very solid pedigree.
It’s difficult to summarize “The Snowman.” There’s a prologue involving a woman and her son being terrorized by a man that leads to the most bizarre suicide in movie history. The mystery surrounding this opening scene isn’t wrapped up until near the end and it is the most cohesive chunk of storytelling in the entire movie.
That takes up about ten minutes of screen time and the remaining 109 minutes are a disaster. We meet Oslo police detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) after he wakes up in a snow covered, freezing cold park following a vodka-fueled bender. Hole, in addition to being a semi-famous detective, must be impervious to the elements as he then passes out on a sidewalk mere minutes later.
Harry, a homicide detective in a country with a notoriously low murder rate, gets bored and butts into a missing persons case with a new detective, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson, seemingly the only committed actor in this mess). She believes this new case is the latest in a string of murders and part of a conspiracy involving Arve Støp (J.K. Simmons), a rich entrepreneur trying to bring a massive winter sports event to Oslo.
“The Snowman” attempts to build more intrigue and anyone who manages to stay awake to the midway point should be able to piece together this alleged mystery. The editing is so unbelievably choppy that a viewer must almost self-edit as you go. Time frames are extremely difficult to delineate and the entire movie implodes once it moves to a fully bizarre “nine years prior” flashback.
These flashbacks introduce us all to the detective that investigated the first victim of the Oslo serial killer…and that detective is portrayed by Val Kilmer, who has become 90% pompadour and 10% actual person. His scenes are surreal and unbelievably sad to watch as a once vibrant actor has been shattered by life threatening illness. His voice was also dubbed (extremely poorly) in post-production and it is fairly heartbreaking.
Kilmer does seem to be the only actor who realized he was in a trash movie and his insane, over the top antics actually make sense. Everyone else is in super serious mode and it makes “The Snowman” even that much more of a beatdown. J.K. Simmons jabs a metal pipe in the spokes of his hot streak and he adds to being completely miscast with a preposterous English-Swedish accent.
In fact, nearly every accent in “The Snowman” is unexplainable. The fact that the only actor who even attempts the correct regional accent is an American is dripping with delicious irony.
Michael Fassbender is in need of an intervention. Every time he shoots for the big blockbuster success, he not only fails, but crashes and burns. He’s fantastic in movies that nobody really sees (check out “Frank”), but movies like this seem lost on him. He is as disinterested in acting in “The Snowman” as people will be watching it.
Many are calling “The Snowman” the worst movie of 2017. Perhaps it is. However, it could be worth seeing at some point (for free, of course) if only to experience its unintended laughter. Not that many movies kill off a female character then moments later have the audacity for the same actress to appear and say “I’m her twin sister.” Folks, that is the stuff of daytime soap opera legend.