- Product Rating -

The Snowman

| November 7, 2017

People often ask me why I see movies when I know that they’ll be bad, and the reasons are plentiful enough if not entirely possible to get behind. The biggest rationales for seeing pulsating chunks of bloody cinematic afterbirth usually fall back on the fact that I a.) like going to the movies regardless, b.) like to be able to say that yes, I did see that, and c.) sharing my opinions is something that my attention-hungry ego thrives on. But it isn’t too often that a movie is just so much of a drag that I might as well have been dragged through a concoction of mud and ice.

The Snowman has some of the worst storytelling in recent memory, and it’s a movie that totally reflects its mutilated production cycle. Sure, I like the actors, and yes, I love overcast skies. I can also really like mysteries, especially when paired with multiple murders. But I cannot excuse a movie where, per the director, 10 to 15 percent of the script was not filmed due to time constraints. The Snowman isn’t just an unfathomable disaster capable of making less than two hours feel like an eternity; it’s the worst movie of 2017.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø, it concerns a man named Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), whose name I don’t think can ever be taken seriously. See, this Harry Hole is a lead detective in Oslo, and he’s just found out about a murdered woman. The killer’s calling card is a snowman that he builds at each crime scene and Harry Hole can’t have this, so he sets out to find the killer with the help of a recruit named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson).

As mentioned earlier, this movie had a fascinatingly troubled production cycle. Martin Scorsese was originally slated to direct but dropped out in 2013, after which Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) came onboard. It was written by Hossein Amini (Drive), Peter Straughan (Frank), and relative newbie Søren Sveistrup. The Snowman has the zing of none of those other movies. Alfredson has confessed that 10 to 15 percent of the script was never even shot, even though reshoots were conducted in the spring of 2017. I would guess that even more was left unrealized given how incomprehensible this movie is, often to such a degree that I was in a perverse sense of awe that what I was watching was not only made but was made by the people involved.

The only positive to The Snowman is some pretty good cinematography from Dion Beebe, but even that seems to have not undergone enough color correction in post-production. The score from Marco Beltrami has some fleeting moments of competence, but it’s often times too grand and thereby distracting, like some pieces were multiple tracks shoved into a blender together. Everything else about this movie is pathetic.

Again, the script is completely inane and not even in an ironically fun way. There are subplots involving some guy (J. K. Simmons) trying to get the World Cup held in Oslo in the future, and abortion becomes a plot point about halfway through. These threads run parallel to what is ostensibly the main plot and it’s hard to tell what any real intention was because all of this cheap nylon thread seemed to have gotten tangled together to an irrevocable extent. It doesn’t help that the editing is truly horrendous at times and keeps each scene even more disconnected from one another than the script and direction would initially have you believe.

The combat this, it seems as if Alfredson relied on comic relief while shooting, none of which works. Every single joke here is misplaced and at odds with the downbeat tone of the rest of the movie, not the mention it isn’t funny. There are instead some moments of unintentional humor that stem from characters’ interactions. These are some dumb, stilted characters whose discussions don’t feel authentic, and the actors are suffocated by the script and Alfredson’s direction of them. Yes, it’s not just the script, pacing, and editing that are bad—the performances wrung out of the cast are equally lifeless.

After I fell asleep within the first 30 minutes and quickly woke up due to another moviegoer’s snoring, I wondered how much left of The Snowman I had to endure. It seemed as if nothing had happened, and yet I had been in that theater for what felt like hours. I had a lot of time to think as this curious failure unfolded in front of me. One question I found myself asking was: is this actually worse than The Bye Bye Man? After I rocketed out of my seat when the ending came, I decided that yes, The Snowman is worse than The Bye Bye Man. That movie at least was unintentionally hilarious and kept my attention for a slight majority of its runtime. It was an utter failure in every sense of the word and bled genericness. The Snowman, however, is a movie that’s just as messy, even more boring, and was made by people with undeniable talent. It’s not just a catastrophe; it’s a shame.

About the Author:

Senior year film student at Columbia College Chicago, Hollywood Film Festival pre-screener, and Best Social Media Presence for North Farmington High School's 2014 senior mock elections. Firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced "jiff".
Filed in: Horror, Now Playing
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