It’s been a long time since I wanted to walk out of a film before the end. The last time I did so was with this year’s Rings reboot, and that was because it was so laughably awful that I didn’t want to waste any more of my time. I came very close with The Snowman, but I figured I should stick it out; I needed to be able to write an accurate, fair, and scathing review.
So if it isn’t clear: I hated this film. I wish that I could be more articulate than that, but it’s easier to get down to that straight away. I wouldn’t want to waste your time. If there’s any semblance of a saving grace for the film, it would be Michael Fassbender in the lead role of Harry Hole – haggard detective, and man of few emotions beyond a scowl. Aside from that: abandon any hope of entertainment.
Let’s first plough through the plot of the film – I will try doing a better job than the screenwriters. Basically, we open on a young boy being berated by a perhaps-uncle (it’s unclear). Fast-forward an imprecise number of years, and we find the aforementioned protagonist, Harry, lying on an icy park bench with a bottle of alcohol clutched in his hand. Because, you know, he needs to have some kind of relatable flaw. But that’s fine: that’s far from the film’s biggest misstep.
So Harry, who is perhaps an ex-cop but also maybe still is one(?) is enlisted to investigate a recent murder, at which the killer left a snowman – hence the film’s title. He’s paired up with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), and the film tries to skirt a similar line to Silence of the Lambs in that the new recruit must learn from her elders.
Except that’s where the links to well put-together movies end. The Snowman has a laughably absent killer, and when the eventual twist is revealed, you realise that there’s no chance you can guess his identity beforehand. Remember: like thrillers are supposed to actually do. No, instead of leaving a small trail of breadcrumbs which become apparent on subsequent viewings, you’re instead left scratching your head at how radically lackadaisical the film is with throwing in random twists. Don’t get me wrong; the film attempts to follow conventions by having possible red herrings to lead you astray, but these come in the form of characters whose sole point is to act hyperbolic and bizarre, and then leave without any real impact on the plot.
Perhaps I’m not giving the film enough credit; perhaps it does have a genuine narrative which works on all fronts. Maybe the novel this screenplay was adapted from isn’t as atrocious as its counterpart. But The Snowman is so badly edited together as a film that it’s hard to work out who is who, when is when, or why we should even care to seek an answer. For example: Val Kilmer is in the movie, but it wasn’t until afterwards – following a conversation with a friend – that I realised all of his scenes were supposed to take place in the past. Characters idly throw names around like we’re meant to know who these people are, and, in fact, not knowing who they are makes linking the narratives virtually impossible. I’m not asking for a movie to be dumbed-down to the point of reiterating what’s going on, but some idea of who’s who when it’s so crucial to the story wouldn’t be a bad thing.
If you think I’m exaggerating my displeasure at the film, here is a scene in its entirety, with the dialogue written verbatim:
“Can I take those?” says Harry, asking for some evidence photographs.
“No,” replies a colleague, for no discernible reason. Harry is his superior.
“Can I take those?” repeats Harry, in the exact same tone as before. He doesn’t even sound agitated.
“Okay, sure,” says the colleague. He hands Harry the photographs.
Absurd dialogue like this is strewn all over the movie, and makes it hard to see anything positive in the whole feature. Honestly, it’s quite shocking that the film was even put out in this state, and I get the feeling a lot of to-the-line editing went on; several moments from the trailers don’t happen in the final product.
I could go on and on about how dreadful The Snowman ultimately was, but I feel like you get the idea: don’t see it. Hey, I love a bad movie as much as the next guy, and will watch bad, disposable nonsense with friends for a laugh. But The Snowman didn’t just present itself as a bad movie; it was an absolute chore to get through, and I will never get those two hours back.
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I wish I was exaggerating with this review, but The Snowman is genuinely one of the worst cinematic experiences I've had. It's laughable, yet is trying to be the furthest thing from a comedy.
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