Somewhere along the line, the makers of The Snowman must have thought that they were launching a long-running blockbuster franchise. It’s adapted from a Scandi-noir novel which is part of a bestselling series by Jo Nesbø, and the cast and crew are stocked with A-listers: the director is Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), the producer is Martin Scorsese, and Michael Fassbender plays the hero, Harry Hole. But even with all of these big names in the credits, will The Snowman be successful enough to justify a sequel, or even a slew of sequels? The film is so preposterous, yet so drab, that it has a snowball’s chance in hell.
The most obvious flaw is its main character. Harry is a revered Norwegian police inspector, but instead of having a personality he has a vinyl record collection and a supposedly severe drinking problem. Just to prove how severe it is, he is first shown waking up one morning in a hut in an Oslo park, and he nods off in a snowdrift outside a bar a few scenes later. Unfortunately, hard-drinking detectives are such a cliché that his alcoholism isn’t fascinating in and of itself. Worse, it has absolutely no impact on his behaviour or his police work.
Snowmen just don’t look very sinister, and their repeated appearances in the film are more likely to elicit giggles than gasps
Indeed, once the plot gets underway, he doesn’t even think about touching a drop of alcohol, a whimsical representation of addiction which might have been acceptable when Arthur Conan Doyle gave Sherlock Holmes an on-off cocaine and morphine habit, but which seems stupid today. Alfredson tries to make his hero more appealing by including one moodily lit shot of a topless Fassbender, demonstrating that Harry is in remarkably good shape for a middle-aged man who drinks and smokes so much, but he still isn’t charismatic or distinctive enough to encourage you to see any more of his adventures. Ironically for a…