Dir: Tomas Alfredson | Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Silvia Busuioc, Jamie Clayton | Horror Thriller | 119′
Tomas Alfredson’s first foray into thriller territory Let the Right One In was one of the most horrifying movies ever made and an instant cult classic. Sadly, The Snowman is horrifically bad. And not even star trio Michael Fassbender, Charlotte Gainsbourg or Toby Jones can do anything to save it.
Fans of ScandiNoir and the frosted pulpy fare of Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø will be the most disappointed by this screen adaptation of the seventh Harry Hole thriller, where a serial-killer’s calling card is a haunting snowman that appears near his crime scenes. For some reason Alfredson has chosen not one but three award-winning writers to fashion the sprawling fractured narrative – and it’s a real dog’s dinner. But they do keep one trick up their sleeve: the identity of the killer.
Fassbender plays the maverick dipsomaniac detective who looks miserable as sin and permanently on the verge of ‘flu for the duration. But before he limps onto the scene, a mother has gone missing in snowy Oslo, abducted in the dead of night and leaving her young daughter and nervous husband (James D’Arcy) in the dark, literally and metaphorically. According to the crime motivation backstory, a ‘mother’ serial killer is on the loose. A little boy has been orphaned when his distraught and suicidal mum drove her Volvo into a frozen lake. A series of gruesome jump cuts feature severed limbs bloodying the snow, we then cut to the starkly-lit Ikea clad interior of a child’s bedroom.
The framing is off kilter, not to mention the gaudy aesthetic and lighting. The sinister tropes of Let the Right One In have gone out, and instead of feeling tense, we feel appalled at the ludicrousness of it all. The female characters are either wearing grotesque wigs (Chloë Sevigny has one of the worst examples) or tarty clothing for no apparent reason: Rebecca Ferguson’s sidekick detective is forced to don thigh books, red lippy and black lace to seduce one of the suspects, Arve Støp (JK Simmons).
Guffaws broke out in the cinema when a bloated, lumbering Val Kilmer appears (as Ferguson’s father), his dubbing wildly out of sync. And Charlotte Gainsbourg (as Hole’s ex) plays a moaning minnie, one minute wittering down the phone about their son, the next, seducing him in a mini dress and bare (almost blue) legs. Meanwhile Toby Jones sports poorly-advised blond highlights and a curious goatee beard. The Snowman is a real ‘shocker’ and not in a good way. On the plus side, the aerial shots of Oslo, Bergen and the wintery landscapes are wonderfully atmospheric: so you do get a trip to Norway’s highlights for your money, it’s a shame about the rest. MT
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