“The Snowman” is perhaps the only movie this year where you’ll laugh at the sight of a woman drowning in her car. I haven’t seen the upcoming comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” yet, so unless that involves Mila Kunis or Kate McKinnon gasping for air as their vintage Woodie plunges into a frozen lake, I’ll be wrong. Until then, “The Snowman” is still your best bet for hilarious frozen liquid death sequences.
Based on a popular novel which I have not read, I assume “The Snowman” is a relatively poor adaptation of whatever made that book so acclaimed. The direction is sloppy, the editing is choppy, the performances are comatose, and save for a few serene scenes of the Norwegian winter countryside, there’s no visual pleasure to be had. It’d almost qualify for “so bad it’s good” territory if it didn’t take itself so seriously.
Basically, Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole (yep), atypical disgruntled detective who works with new recruit Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) to solve a group of gruesome slayings by a culprit who takes the time to build a snowman outside each of his murder scenes. Harry’s also dealing with some personal stuff regarding his ex-wife and biological but unconnected son. And J.K. Simmons plays a respected Norwegian socialite named Arve stop who wants to get a version of the Winter Olympics to Oslo and also is involved with some high class hookers.
I firmly believe that no movie is inherently unlovable and that an audience exists for any movie regardless of critical or commercial reception. And judging how this film was directed by the same guy who did “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and stars an Academy Award-nominated actor, you can’t fault this movie for poor creative direction alone. But “The Snowman” does prove to be the rare movie that is the sum of collective failures. Atrocious dialogue, awkward direction, and a story so pale and dull that our desire to stop watching heavily outweighs the need to know who the killer is. It honestly would be more satisfying to learn that the 3-foot-tall snowmen outside each of the crime scenes somehow magically came to life and were responsible for the deaths. But as it stands, “The Snowman” is a master stroke of dissatisfaction.