Oscar season has arrived and has greeted us with one of the worst opening weekends I have ever seen. This past weekend saw the release of one good film in Only the Brave, two expected stinkers in Geostorm and Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, and one of the worst and most disappointing films of the year, The Snowman. Ever since I first saw the film's trailer a few months ago, I had been extremely excited for The Snowman. I fell in love with the poster and even used it as my phone background for several weeks. Fast forward to mid-October and a whole bunch of negative reviews started to roll out for the film, but I remained in denial and went into the theater excited to see The Snowman on its opening night. Then I watched the film. To say that The Snowman was an extreme disappointment is an understatement.
To be honest, this will likely turn into a rant because there are so many negative aspects of this film. However, I do not think it is all bad like most people. I thought the film looked gorgeous, but none of the credit goes to the filmmakers. Norway is such a naturally beautiful country and deserves any credit for this film looking great. I also feel really bad for the film's director, Tomas Alfredson. I know this is not the film he wanted to make. It was even reported that 10-15% of the film's script was never recorded because Universal Pictures forced them to wrap up production before the film was finished. Alfredson has also directed Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so I am willing to give him a pass on this one because I know what Alfredson is capable of. Universal Pictures should take most of the blame for this stinker of a film.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time i go in deep on what is wrong with this film; it is a lot to digest. It goes hand-in-hand with what I said earlier about chunks of the script not being filmed, but a book-to-film adaptation of a critically-acclaimed bestselling novel should never be this bad. Screenwriters Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, and Soren Sveistrup really butchered this adaptation. Another thing that bothered me is that this film, though set in Norway, features zero Norwegian characters. Is there a pocket of Oslo, Norway where all of the residents are not Norwegian? The film stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny, and J.K. Simmons amongst some other minor characters. None of them are Norwegian and it was pretty clear that none of them wanted to be there. Not a single actor in this film gives a good performance - not even Fassbender. They were all there to collect paychecks from Universal.
Not only do the actors and actresses not want to be there, but majority of the characters were completely unnecessary. The only actors who played roles that I considered necessary were Fassbender, Ferguson, Jonas Karlsson (the killer), Genevieve O'Reilly (the main victim), Gainsbourg (Fassbender's ex), and Michael Yates (Gainsbourg's son). Nobody else mattered; all of the extra characters were simply distractions that took away from any bit of tension in the film. Again, I do not understand how characters can be so weak and unnecessary throughout the film's entirety when it is adapted from such a great novel. However, we did see earlier this year with The Circle that incredible novels can be adapted into crappy movies.
I still put most of the blame on Universal for distributing a film they knew was not finished, but the editing duo of Claire Simpson and Thelma Schoonmaker deserve a lot of the blame as well. Despite only having 85-90% of the script to work with, the editors should have managed to put together a coherent film with a believable story, but that did not happen. This is one of the worst editing efforts I have ever seen in a film. I did not notice at first, but Val Kilmer's limited audio in the film was dubbed over his performance. Problem being the audio and video were not in sync. It was almost as bad as the florist scene in The Room. The shifts from scene-to-scene were so jarring. Anytime the film attempts to create an iota of tension, it immediately cuts back to an unnecessary flashback or to a scene that has nothing to do with the investigation. Our villain here, though he does have decent motive, is an absolutely weak and stupid character who ultimately dies in the weakest fashion possible. The protagonist does not kill him. You should not go see this film, so I will go ahead and spoil the ending for you here - the killer dies by drowning in a lake while chasing Fassbender. It is atrocious and destroys the entire film in the blink of an eye.
Ultimately, the entire film feels like it was trying to build up to something intense, but ends up disappointing all viewers with one of the most infuriating endings of all-time. It is a crime, mystery, drama, horror, and thriller film that is criminally bad and features no mystery, drama, horror, or thrills. The editing was atrocious, the director did not make the film he wanted to make thanks to a distributor wrapping up production on a film they knew sucked, and none of the cast or crew members put in any noticeable effort. Thank goodness Norway is beautiful and the premise was interesting or else this would get the worst possible score from me. The Snowman is in theaters now, but I do not recommend it to anybody.
FINAL SCORE: 1.5/5 (Bad)
*All images belong to Universal Pictures and Tomas Alfredson.