‘The Snowman’ Is a Disappointing Mystery Not Worth Solving

An active serial killer strikes a snow-ridden Norwegian town leaving behind a trace of clues simply signed by the drawing of a snowman. The mystery thriller “The Snowman,” penned by Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan, is based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo. While the search to uncover the killer behind the heinous crimes is much like a puzzle, the final product appears to be missing a few of the pieces.

Michael Fassbender leads the investigation as Detective Harry Hole (pronounced Holy), an alcoholic who can barely manage a paternal relationship with his ex-girlfriend’s son, let alone handle his own inhibitions. The character of the alcoholic detective tormented by the nature of his work is as cliché as they come. Even Fassbender appears to be somewhat unamused by the prospects. Katrine Bratt (a top-par Rebecca Ferguson), a new detective to the Oslo crime squad, joins him in his search for the disappearance of a disgruntled mother.

Along their journey, the investigative duo crosses paths with Syliva Otterson (Chloe Sevigny), whose twin sister Ane Pedersen (also played by Sevigny) has come to visit. Upon Ane’s arrival, she finds that Sylvia is missing. After a brief, an uneventful search, Sylvia’s bust is discovered atop the body of a snowman. Hole and Bratt quickly realize that they have the markings of a repeated killer, which emulates a crime that occurred decades ago.

The film doesn’t waste any time jumping directly into the action, but unfortunately the pacing throughout doesn’t quite match up to the ambitious beginning. As the film progresses, hidden agenda’s are frustratingly thrust into the forefront, and multiple characters are set-up as the potential killer.

Among the list of suspected faces are a powerful businessman, Arve Stop (J.K. Simmons), and a seedy doctor Vetlesen (David Dencik). However, once the true killer is revealed, the motive is so bland and uninspired that is whisks away any interest garnered by the somewhat surprising revelation.

Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, the Academy Award winning auteur almost helmed the project himself, before handing it off to Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Let the Right One In”).

The film’s highest regards lend towards the stunning framework and cinematography. The Norway filming location allotted for beautiful mountain winter-scapes, with crisp white snow, and washed out undertones. The photography, sharply captured by Dion Beebe, is quite similar to the cold, damp, and bleak atmosphere of contemporary crime thriller adaptations, “Gone Girl” and “Girl on a Train.” Succinctly, “The Snowman” is prestige in presentation but cursed with an ill-fated script.

The film ends with Detective Hole receiving word about a new grisly murder. Readers of the popular book series know that this leads the detective down a road in search for “The Leopard.” In fact, “The Snowman” is part eight in the Harry Hole detective series. The disappointing execution faults any hope of seeing future cinematic installments. Disparate the written source material, it is unlikely viewers of the film will crave a second investigation. Case closed.

The Snowman” opens in theaters Oct. 18.