The film opens on the tragic circumstances surrounding a young boy losing his mother, only to then be ditched by his abusive “uncle.” We flash forward to the present day where a drunk Harry wakes up on a frozen park bench.
He heads to the local police station, where he works as an investigator. His once sterling reputation as one of the best in the business is now tarnished by his frequent forays into alcoholism, which has cost him some of the more interesting cases.
When a letter falls into his lap from a longtime serial killer telling about his latest victim, Harry manages to snatch up the case and wrestles up a team, including a brash new recruit named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) who is particularly invested in the case. But what starts out as a careful and calculated investigation turns into a frantic search for the Snowman serial killer when Harry discovers things hit closer to home than he anticipated.
The Snowman captures the chilling mind of a serial killer, with the methodical killings taking place during snowfalls in wintered Norway, targeting victims who meet specific criteria, and leaving a snowman as the chilling calling card. Michael Fassbender does a decent job portraying the troubled, but skilled investigator Harry Hole. Fassbender is excellent at playing parts that are more quiet, revealing more in a look than his actions could describe.
But for me, the character who seemed more interesting was his partner, Katrine Bratt (played by Ferguson). She seemed to have a bigger part in the story, and was much more connected and intriguing, nearly stealing the show, so to speak. Whether intentional or not, she seemed to be the center of the narrative.
Overall, the film was an entertaining watch, but it definitely had potential to be a better thriller. The ending ties up nicer (and easier) than I would prefer for thrillers, and the film felt a bit disjointed. Scenes would end and start that didn’t seem connected. It’s really only by the end of the film that you realize what they had to do with the story. Switches from the present day to the past happened so quickly that you don’t realize at first what’s going on.
In addition, some characters felt shallow and less developed, particularly the killer (whom I won’t reveal here) and Val Kilmer‘s character as former lead investigator Rafto. Even Harry felt a bit underdeveloped, which left me not as connected to the film as I would’ve liked.
Regardless, the pieces are there for a great film. What did work beautifully was the setting. A frigid Norway in the dead of winter definitely aids in giving you a chill as you watch the story and its gruesome scenes unfold, as well as a sense that you could feel the cold in the killer’s heart. ~Alexa Caruso
Take a closer look at the actors in the film and the roles they play in Cast of Characters.
Creating Jo Nesbø’s World looks at the film’s original source material with the author, Jo Nesbø.
Get an in-depth take at the chilling and troubled mind of the film’s murderer in The Snowman Killer.
Norwegian Landscape features the beautiful but frozen landscape that is key to the story.
Stunt Files: The Sinking Lake gives viewers a detailed look at how the film’s biggest stunt, the sinking lake, was pulled off.