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 was one of the most horrifying movies every made: Let the Right One In. Sadly, THE SNOWMAN is a horrifically bad. And there is nothing the committed cast of Michael Fassbender and Charlotte Gainsbourg can do to save its ludicrous fractured narrative that feels as it has has been condensed from a mini-series format, by a deranged idiot. Fans of ScandiNoir and the frosty 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.
Fassbender plays the maverick dipsomaniac detective who looks miserable as sin, and permanently on the verge of ‘flu. But before he limps onto the scene, a mother goes missing in snowy Oslo when she’s abducted in the dead of night leaving her young daughter and nervous husband (James D’Arcy) in the dark, literally and metaphorically. We are then briefed with a crime motivation backstory involving a boy who was orphaned when his distraught and suicidal mother drove her Volvo into a frozen lake. Rather than tempt us with an unsettling score and scenes of sinuous and sinister dread that slowly down-spiral into doom, Alfredson has a habit of suddenly springing on us a gruesome shot of severed limbs bloodying the snow, before cutting to the starkly-lit Ikea clad interior of a child’s bedroom. The framing is poor, not to mention the film’s 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 awfulness. The female characters are either wearing grotesque wigs (Chloë Sevigny wears one of the worst examples) or tarty clothing: Rebecca Ferguson’s sidekick detective has to don thigh books, red lippy and black lace to seduce one of the suspects, Arve Støp (JK Simmons). And the normally reliable Hossein Amini’s scripting prowess seems to have abandoned him without trace. Guffaws broke out in the cinema when a bloated, lurching Val Kilmer appears (as Ferguson’s father), and his dubbing is out of sync. And Charlotte Gainsbourg, is forced to play a moaning Minnie, as Hole’s ex, one minute wittering down the phone about their son, and seducing him in a mini dress and (almost blue) bare legs the next. Even the Toby Jones has a to rock poorly advised blond highlights and a curious goatee beard. It really is horrifying, and not in the right way. On the plus side, the aerial shots of Oslo, Bergen and snowy winter landscapes are terrifically atmospheric: at least you feel you’ve had a trip to Norway for your money, it’s a shame about the rest. MT
OUT ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 13 OCTOBER 2017