Film Review: The Snowman (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

The Snowman, 2017

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons


This is a perfect example of how a trailer completely ruins a film (even if the film wasn’t brilliant to begin with). And I’ll explain more on that after the rating, as it can be considered a bit of a spoiler.

The Snowman stars Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave) as Detective Harry Hole in Norway who is investigating the disappearance of a victim and begins noticing similarities between a series of other victims, mainly that the killer always leaves a snowman present at the scene (and they seem to ignore the fact that the same weapon is used for each killing). With the help of a recruit Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), who is investigating it for her own reasons, they try to outwit and catch the killer before he strikes again.

I was so excited for this film; last year I read The Girl on the Train and the film adaptation was pretty decent, and I always enjoy a who-done-it thriller, and with this being a film adaptation of a novel and even having a unique setting in Norway, which is full of snow, I got excited. But watching it I was bitterly disappointed. Harry and Katrine are working together to solve a crime, however they seem to be solving it for different reasons and keep so much secret from one-another so we don’t get the bonding between the detectives. We also don’t get too much back-story of Harry’s involvement (he gets cards from the killer addressed to him but we are not given any reason as to why he’s involved; it becomes kind of clear by the reveal but it still is poor writing), and with a scene at the beginning showing a young boy witnessing his mother drown we are instantly told the killer is a male, disregarding all the women in the film, something which The Girl on the Train didn’t do. And with so few men (most of which the film is trying so hard to push us in their direction that it makes it obvious they aren’t the killer) that it doesn’t take a very smart audience member to work out who’s behind it all.

As noted before, the use of location is very good. They combine a Winter World Cup bid with the killings and it all works very well (even if nobody ever appears cold), and while this would normally score a higher rating for presentation, this film is the first instance where I’m taking the trailer into account and that hindered it so much.

As a thriller it was disappointing as it wasn’t very thrilling; as a crime who-done-it film it disappointed as it wasn’t very clever or difficult to work out; the detectives had no desire to work with each other nor did they have anything in common; while it is worth watching if you’ve seen everything else and still want to watch a film, I wouldn’t advise going out of your way to catch this film in the cinema.


Plot: * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¾

With regards to the trailer, and this will involve a few minor spoilers, it completely ruined so much of the film, including the killer. Every pronoun in the trailer points at a man being the killer, which, as mentioned before, means I know coming in it’s a man, but there’s two parts of the trailer which really annoyed me.

Firstly, there’s a scene which show Harry with a gun and hugging Rebecca from behind while holding this gun; in the scene in the film there’s absolutely no suspicion that he’s going to shoot her, and there’s no reason throughout the film which would make you think he’s going to shoot her, so this direction in the trailer seemed out of nowhere. It also made me cautious towards their relationship throughout and with the film making it clear they don’t want to be together nor do they have any chemistry that maybe that scene showed they were going to come to blows but nothing happened.

But the biggest problem with the trailer is the use of speeches which didn’t feature in the film. There’s so many major speeches in the trailer which tells the audience all the clues that were forgotten about in the film, which meant if you came into the film without the trailer there’s not that much detection, but there’s also a speech at the end of the trailer where the killer informs Harry that he ‘gave him all the clues’ and he ‘could have saved her,’ but you’re giving us the voice of the killer. During the film as soon as I matched that voice to a character I knew the killer and that took away the biggest draw from this film. I’d love to know how much the director had a say in the trailer because it ruined the biggest intrigue in the film, even if the rest of the film was poor.

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