On paper, The Snowman sounds like a slam dunk. You have an acclaimed director (Tomas Alfredson of Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); a stellar cast, including Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and J.K. Simmons; a bestselling novel for source material; and Martin Scorsese producing. In reality, however, it’s a mess.
The film follows Oslo detective Harry Hole (Fassbender) as he investigates a string of missing persons. A new member of his team (Ferguson) believes the cases are all connected, and they realize they are after a serial killer. The killer’s calling card is snowmen: He leaves them outside the homes of victims, sticks severed heads on them and puts their heads on headless bodies. It’s gruesome, but it’s also a bit silly, and the film never makes snowmen seem truly frightening despite its best efforts.
The film’s narrative is a jumbled mess of subplots with no payoffs, and flashbacks that disrupt the story rather than adding to it. In The Snowman’s defense, it does look nice and the performances aren’t terrible. But ultimately, it has the slapped-together instability of an actual snowman, failing to deliver competent storytelling—let alone the thrilling mystery promised.
Should you see it? No, feel free to pass on this one.