Film Review – ‘The Snowman’ (2017)

The serial killer thriller is a popular and well respected genre. For Michael Fassbender to embark on the lead role of Harry Hole; the prominent detective character on Jo Nesbo’s valued novels, one would believe that Fassbender has made a wise decision. Unfortunately, it is with regret to state that ‘The Snowman’ is a let-down, that some would rather see a snowman fly to ‘Walking in the Air’ than watch this. That may be a harsh statement, but let’s scrutinise the positive elements first and work our way down negatively.

The film looks good visually. To set it in Norway, Oslo puts an interesting picturesque city on mainstream film. To see a multitude of snow in the background provides an effective location that the viewer would not say ‘no’ to visiting Oslo, the place of an endless pit of snow and overpriced beer. The musical score is tense and sets the tone to be a serious thriller thus making the film conventional to its genre.

The plot is straightforward where Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. There you have it! The snowman is the serial killers signature trademark of who did it. As Fassbender investigates the crime, we are supposed to go along for the roller coaster ride but the problem is the roller coaster is not exciting. Sadly there are no loops or slow tension of rising to the big climax of a fast paced thrilling ride. There are irrelevant subplots to make the viewer think the murderer was someone else when it wasn’t. The murders aren’t shocking enough as we’ve seen this all before and most importantly, the motives of the murderer to kill people is a weak reason and this is what will result to the big let-down in the end. We’ve all had a difficult childhood, so what difference do you make is sadly what the viewer will think.

Apparently ‘The Snowman’ is the seventh instalment of the Harry Hole book series and there are hints that more films are to follow. After viewing this, it’s obvious that a franchise has been killed at birth. Moving on to Fassbender’s performance, it’s unoriginal in terms of the drunken detective with many flaws scenario. Fassbender tries his best but is unable to bring anything juicy to the role. Instead, you walk away thinking that almost no one can maintain a winning streak. His performance as ‘Macbeth’ is outstanding but his performance in ‘Shame’ will always be held the most definitive. He’ll get his mojo back is what his fans hope for, providing he chooses the right project.

The supporting cast is fine except J.K Simmons. His corrupt politician, Arve Stop is so pointless that it derives on a different tangent of the film, that it will leave the viewer disappointed. As the murders unravel, it is Charlotte Gainsbourg’s, Rakel character that shines. Her ex-girlfriend character to Fassbender’s Harry Hole is well-intentioned as she plays that caring mother to her young teenage son, making Fassbender the potential stepfather. It is the mother and son relationship that we can all identify with as it provides Fassbender with motivation to save them from the killer when he attempts to harm the people nearest and dearest to our protagonist.

Overall, ‘The Snowman’ is a disappointment. The audience yearns for a thriller that can meet up to the standard of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘Se7en.’ But in the words of The Rolling Stones, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’

Aly Lalji | [rating=2]

Crime, Drama | USA, 2017 | 15 | 13th October 2017 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Tomas Alfredson | Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloë Sevigny, J.K Simmons, Val Kilmer, James D’Arcy