I sometimes get to see films before their official theatrical release. A friend regularly needs a plus one to go see these advance screenings and if I'm free, I say yes regardless of the film. It's how I saw Rough Night and basically the only reason I saw that garbage film. I went to an advance screening last night of The Snowman and suffice it to say, I'm glad I didn't have to pay. Truth be told, this is the kind of movie I'd have simply let pass by otherwise. Regardless, I saw it and thought it would be a good idea to get my thoughts on the film out into the world. Maybe this review will a) intrigue people about the film or b) save them the hassle. I'll start off by saying that I enjoyed the experience. I'm pretty lucky when it comes to seeing films in that people that sit beside me end up being pretty cool. When I saw The Foreigner, I told the guy beside me to not drink my of my soda pop. He laughed and it set a lighter tone for the next couple hours. With The Snowman, the same sort of thing happened except it was a lady and our mutual dismay at how ridiculous the movie was ended up being vocalized and we both enjoyed the experience of sharing it. Our snide comments whispered to the screen were shared and laughs were had. Made the whole thing much better in my opinion.
I guess this film spans over some thirty years as the beginning of the film depicts a scene of a mother being abused in front of her son as punishment for him not doing better with his studies. Either the mother or son was fiddling around with coffee beans. The mother is then (I presume) raped or forcibly plowed by the abuser. She stands up to him and he leaves. The mother and son follow him in their car only for the mother to take her hands off the wheel and cause the car to become erratic. The son pulls the emergency brake, the car goes careening off the road onto a snow-covered lake, the ice cracks, and after the kid gets out of the car, it drops into the snow with the mother calmly in the driver's seat. Opening credits, and we are now in what I presume is current day. I guess I can mention that the film takes place in Norway. It doesn't really change anything, add, or detract from the film. I guess it explains why there are some different names for characters. Anyways, present day.
We're introduced to the protagonist, who is of course a broken and battered drunk police officer that flirts with the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong side of the law, and is about as generic as they come. Is the first scene with him showing him waking up in a park with a bottle in his hand after presumably drunkenly passing out there? Check! Is he smoking in almost every scene? Check! Is he trying to do right by the son that doesn't know he's the father? Check! The eye-rolling can commence any time. We get to meet the mother, the son, the new man in her life. We get a new cop on the police force that just transferred in. We get to meet a weirdo doctor specializing in a specific field of child birthing, and we get to meet the rich tycoon that funds said field. None of these characters make an impact except in the weird things they are scripted to do. I can't even remember any of their names and I only just saw the film. Oh! There's also a flashback to a poorly dubbed Val Kilmer playing a cop that was on a missing persons case before he "committed suicide". I think that's all the important characters we need to know about.
Basically, there's some missing persons reports that all have similar characteristics. At one point the "just transferred" cop mentions that they all seem to happen when it's snowing. She's verbally slapped in the face with the "drunken" cop suggesting "it is winter...". Brilliant police work here. Also, it's Norway and the entire country would appear to be covered in snow. So, we get the "new man" prescribing sleep medication to the "drunken" cop and the mother becoming irate that it happened. We get the weirdo doctor being shown as a recluse and wearing nail polish on his feet. The rich tycoon is introduced to a lady who's dress is promptly removed. He photographs her chest, calls the guy that introduced them an idiot, and end scene. The "just transferred" cop meets the tycoon and has her photograph taken as well. No explanation why for either of these incidents. There are some weird bits that I feel would be sussed out better in the book, but I'm not about to go out and read it just to clarify a shitty film adaptation.
Onto the actual main premise of the movie. There are some ladies that get kidnapped and they end up dead. The killer leaves a snowman with coffee beans for a mouth and eyes each time! Ooh, suspenseful. All the women that go missing have some sort of motherly quality in common - they've all made a "questionable" decision regarding a child. This "questionable" decision is motivation for the kidnappings and subsequent killings. The killer also televises his actions by sending a creepy letter to the drunken cop. We find out that the same thing happened years earlier with Val Kilmer's dubbed cop and his "committing suicide" is spelled out a bit more with it being an actual setup. He is murdered by the killer because he's "getting too close". The killer blows his head off with a shotgun and then leaves a snowman head with a coffee bean mouth and eyes where his head used to be. After examining the photo of the corpse for about a second, the drunken cop spots the coffee beans. I guess it wasn't important for the other cops on the case to do their actual job. So, we find out drunken cop and dubbed cop are hunting the same guy. But wait for it... "just transferred" cop is dubbed cop's daughter and she's been secretly working the case the whole time! Holy plot twist. Insert eye-roll. Bah blah blah, more inane plot stuff and we can fast-forward to the denouement. The final scene of the movie takes place where the first scene did. The killer is an adult version of the boy from the first scene. He's been killing women while acting as judge and jury for what he feels were those "questionable" choices. His journey ends after falling into an ice-covered lake as a poetic reflection of where his journey began.
I gave away pretty much all the plot points except who the actual killer is. Honestly, it doesn't even matter who it is because the movie is awful. The characters are unlikeable, the premise is questionable at best, and it feels like the movie was poorly edited together for reasons I don't care to know. In traditional Hollywood fashion, all the people have to be prettied up despite being in frozen winter Norway. Not a single pair of gloves or winter toque is seen. A lot of the characters smoke for no explicable reason. I think the real killers may just be frostbite and lung cancer. Did I like the actual film? Nope. Not one bit. Did I enjoy the experience? Sure! Were there an unnecessary amount of dramatic camera shots of snowmen set to eery music? Yup! Did the soundtrack sound like a lame homage to the Beetlejuice score? Sure did! It's a trash movie and could very well be enjoyed if it is treated as such from the beginning. See the film, read the book, or don't do either. Just know that I warned y'all!