Despite it's spectacular cast and excellent source material, The Snowman is wholly underwhelming – almost completely devoid of character development, suspense, or fulfilling payoff.
Detective Harry Hole, a self-destructive alcoholic with a keen eye for reading people, is fresh off his most recent bender and in need of distraction. The diversion he needs, comes in the form of an investigation into the disappearance of several women – the only clue connecting them being creepy-looking snowmen left at the scene.
There are a lot of things that go wrong with this film, foremost among them is the total lack of attention paid to developing its primary characters. Fassbender's Harry Hole (yes… seriously…) is characterized almost solely by his self-loathing, and Rebecca Ferguson‘s Katrine is given even less focus – her character being, more or less, a personification of the “and this time it's personal” trope. The supporting cast, bolstered by the astounding talents of award winning actors like J.K. Simmons and Toby Jones, are relegated to meager and bland stereotypes.
We are given almost zero reason to care about the struggles of these characters and the dangers that surround them – which leaves us strangely unmoved when their lives are threatened. In fact, death seems to be the only form of evolution the characters can undergo.
The 2007 novel from which the film is adapted is the seventh book in the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbø and herein lies the issue – any of the plot development, themes, events, or character growth that had taken place in the previous books is utterly lacking here. While this might not be an issue for those who had read the series, everyone else is left to their own devices – or just to guess.
The scenery is spectacular and the concept is, undoubtedly, intriguing – the film just does almost nothing with them as it slowly shuffles from one plot point to another with muted resignation. By the end of it – the audience is left without catharsis, just a vague feeling relief that it's over.
Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny, Toby Jones
Release Date: October 20, 2017 (USA)
Runtime: 1h 59m
Post-credits scene: no