The film The Snowman, based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo, is an attempt at a psychological thriller with ambitious intentions, but sadly the film goes awry. Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole, a detective in Oslo, Norway who, despite battling personal demons, is a savant when it comes to investigating murders. Although the novel is very well regarded, the film is confusing and downright nonsensical throughout. The characters are not well-developed, the plot is extremely disjointed, and there are very few redeeming qualities for the duration of the film.
The film opens up with a scene in an isolated Norwegian home with a mother and a young boy. After an uncomfortable visit from what he discovers to be his real father, the boy witnesses his mother take her own life in a gruesome way.
After the opening scene, the audience is introduced to the character of Hole, who wakes up on a bench during a freezing Norwegian night, apparently trying to track a criminal. He eventually ends up back at the police headquarters, where the other officers are being debriefed on a new technology that can record and store information for the police to use.
When a married mother of a young girl goes missing and the clues point to a serial killer who uses snowmen as his calling card, Hole teams up with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), a young, up and coming officer on the force. The two unravel the Snowman mystery that eventually leads them to a major gala to promote having Oslo become home to a major Olympic-like sporting event that has much corruption and greed underneath the exterior.
The story has many major plot gaps, and there are too many characters that do not drive the story along, but instead take up screen time. The killer himself is not a believable one, and the mystery is pretty easy to figure out early on. Some major supporting actors like Val Kilmer as the drunk, suspended officer Rafto, and J.K. Simmons as Arve Stop, the head of the committee to bring the event to Norway, barely contribute to the story at all.
One thing The Snowman does well is showcase the beautiful scenery of Oslo, Norway. There are many scenes that display the rocky, cold parts of Norway that do a good job of emphasizing the isolation of the main characters. The scenes were filmed well and give the feeling of being in a place that is dark for the majority of the winter season.
Going into the film expecting a suspenseful, psychological thriller, The Snowman leaves the viewer wanting much more. The cliched suspense scenes and half-witted story do not live up to a scary Halloween romp. This is definitely a film you should wait to see until it comes out on basic cable one winter afternoon.