Nordic noirs are all the rage, even more so than their American predecessors. There’s something about a snowy setting that sends an ice-cube down people’s spines. In Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of The Snowman, based on Jo Nesbø’s eighth Harry Hole novel, we have the same setting but done by Hollywood. Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is the typical drunk and depressed but brilliant detective, who investigates a series of missing persons reports with the help of his partner Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson). But this turns into a series of grotesque murders – all containing the presence of a snowman, the killer’s calling card.
The audience is settled at the start, but only after overcoming a few disappointments. It’s clear from the beginning that the film shouldn’t be taken seriously but as a bit of noirish fun. And this does work for a time, even given its imperfections. But then it gets silly and convoluted, particularly when JK Simmonds gets involved as a pervy abortion doctor. The viewer spends the time trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and isn’t too impressed with the result.
The film is in a constant hurry. The scenes are shunted from drawing themselves out and embracing the viewer. This is from the director of 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and co-written by Hossein Amini, who adapted Drive – both features that preserve an excellent sense of patience. The Snowman feels like a disappointment in comparison. Although the audience likes Harry Hole and Fassbender’s brilliant performance, there are times when all the characters feel skipped over. It would’ve been nice to linger longer in the scenes. As it is, the movie is more like a two-hour trailer.
There are some favourable aspects. Although a lot of the story is stupid, the fun is never lost. One can still enjoy The Snowman, especially horror fans. Alfredson adopts a John Carpenter, Halloween-style approach in some scenes – but these are short-lived moments.
The Snowman is a cold rush of a movie. Like a snowball, it crumbles as it continues. There are moments that are genuinely creepy, and Dion Beebe’s scenic cinematography makes one stare in awe, like when watching a nature documentary. But the story strips away these qualities, losing them in the snow.
The Snowman is released nationwide on 13th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Snowman here: