You think you know everything there is about Harry Hole … wait, that name can’t be right? He’s called Harry Hole? Whatever, take the quiz!
Harry Hole is a gritty Oslo detective struggling with alcoholism. When a string of murders start, he and his partner suspect it’s the work of a savage serial killer. Can they catch the monster before it’s too late? Find out in… The Snowman.
How?! Oh man, Harry Hole is such a mess. Waking up drunk, not going to work, and dealing with a break-up with his ex-girlfriend (as he struggles to continue to be in her son’s life). But he’s obviously the best goddamned police detective Oslo has, so back off! Anyway, he just needs a juicy new case to keep his head straight. Turns out this case is the work of a serial killer that his new partner is already familiar with. While Harry seems to find links between the women murdered and their personal life involving adultery and children out of wedlock, his partner becomes convinced that it’s the work of a prominent businessman in town. As they investigate each murder the killer seems to toy with Harry, sending him notes, setting him up to meet victims before they are murdered, and framing a suspect as The Snowman. This culminates in the murder of his partner by The Snowman as she attempts to further investigate the businessman. When Harry finally gets too close to the murderer it is revealed that he is his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He has kidnapped her and her son and taken them to his childhood home. In a final confrontation The Snowman is killed by falling through the ice on a frozen river. Harry wins again just like he always does and always will in the many sequels this wildly successful film will have… jk. This was terribly boring and unsuccessful. THE END.
Why?! Due to the nature of this film this is actually difficult to answer. Harry Hole is solving the crime because he is a detective. Duh. Boring. But the killer seems to be killing women because they have affairs… or is it that they are having children out of wedlock… or is it that they are having children who never know their fathers… or is it that they are having abortions? It’s all a little murky because the killer’s MO seems to change depending on his mood. Oh yeah and he also kills random people to try to cover his tracks… whatever. It all stems from his childhood in which he was the product of a violent affair that resulted in the suicide of his mother.
What?! No major product placement or plot devices so I’ll use this space to talk about the adaptation from the book, which I read years ago. I commend them on the changes they made to fit the story to a cinematic release. It’s pretty common now to take a story with a built in fan base and adapt it straight. They certainly didn’t do that here. At the same time almost all the changes made were for the worse or at least more confusing… that’s all I got.
Who?! There is a very special thanks to Truls Kontny, head of the Film Commission Norway, for obvious reasons. I’d rather reiterate the weirdness of Val Kilmer in this film. It’s understandable but still shocking that not more was made of his involvement in the film. He obviously has been significantly impacted physically from his illness and it was at times hard to watch him struggle through his scenes. Hate to say they should have recast his part but… yes, they probably should have.
Where?! Norway, duh, they gave a special thanks to Truls Kontny after all. If they had kept the book’s ending of Harry hanging off the iconic ski jump that overlooks Oslo then this would get an A… as it is it is just heavily set in Oslo but able to be set elsewhere. Like, if this film was made 20 years ago it would have been set in Alaska and starred Sly Stallone who wouldn’t have been an alcoholic but rather addicted to health and fitness. B+.
When?! Harry buys concert tickets as a birthday present for Friday, November 21st. We see him go to the concert so all the events of the film occur on or around that day. Weird thing is that you have to jump to 2020 or go back to 2014/2008/etc. to get a November 21st on a Friday. I guess I would think maybe this took place in 2008 or before since the book was set in 2004 and written in 2007… or they didn’t really care much. B+.
The murkiness of the motivations is part of the mess that is this film. Not only does it sometimes seem like parts of the film are missing, but it also seems to mix and match it with portions of the book. This messes with the internal logic of the film because while we see some motivation of the killer derived from childhood trauma (slightly different than in the book), the rest of the murders aren’t changed significantly enough to match the new motivation. Problematic. It’s actually startling that this film was released in this state. Should have thought about reshoots maybe. It did no one any favors and seems to have harmed the reputation of a young director in the process. And I didn’t even mention Val Kilmer. Egad. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! When I am shaken awake by a terrible dream, sweating in the cold moonlight, staring out into the clear London night, I tremble, my mind running a thousand miles per hour over the anxieties to come upon morning. My heartbeat slowing, I whisper to myself “At least I’m not the person who had to edit The Snowman” and fall soundlessly asleep. Let’s get into it.
The Good (Sklognalysis) – I like Fassbender and many of the side actors in the film. The vistas are beautiful, what more could you ask for? Well … we’ll get to that. But if this movie was a screensaver it would be just magnifique. Unfortunately it’s actual intention is to entertain, sooooo … A tiny Sklognalysis to end it. The rumors surrounding this movie are basically that the production started before the director even got on board, they couldn’t afford to film in Norway as long as necessary, and thus only about 85% of the script was actually filmed. This is what I would call an uneditable film. The material wasn’t there to fashion a story out of the pieces, it is an editor’s nightmare. Given the condition of Val Kilmer (his voice still recovering from throat cancer and thus totally dubbed) it is pretty obvious they were not allowed to reshoot … it is just bonkers. Just, absolutely incredible stuff. Once the Bad Movie Twins Media Empire is launched we’ll get to the bottom of these mysteries.
The Bad (Sklogcabulary Quiz) – Val Kilmer is completely dubbed in this film and barely appears in it. I needed to come up with a catchy description of what this kind of represented and settled on:
Star Poser (n.) – An actor hired to bring star power to a film who instead, ironically, ends up being the weakest part.
Val Kilmer, in this film, is a Star Poser. It is no slight to Val Kilmer, but someone had to tell him he just couldn’t do it. His voice is shot and the voiceover is just … you couldn’t find a voice actor who could kind of sound like him? It is just weird. I’ve covered it several times, but the film is just put together very very poorly. They must have just had nothing to work with because the result is kind of indescribably bad.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy I think is that this is kind of a rare example of a film I watched juuust after the Razzie awards were given where I thought “huh, kind of surprising this didn’t get a nod”. Most of the time we hit the big targets, so it is pretty surprising we hit something just a little too late to put it in our current year worst at the Smaddies Baddies. And street cred? Woof. Fourth worst at both AV Club and Variety. What more could we ask for really?
I did not read the book this was based on, but I can say with assurance this was very very Norway. Continue to check out the evolving Map Streets Map Alright! as we add more European countries Sklog-packing across Europe.