The Snowman Preview

Big week for us at BMTHQ as we transition from the adaptation cycle into the second cycle of the year which introduces a new game to BMT. That game is an extension to the wildly popular and is basically the International It gets the Backstreet Boys inspired nickname of the Mapstreet’s Map, Alright! This whole venture will start with a focus on Europe with the Sklogs’ backpacking adventure. So we’ll attempt to hit nine films with different European settings and require that each must either be the first film we’ve watched from a particular country OR it must have a higher BMeTric score than whatever currently holds the spot on the map. Obviously the transition must be an adaptation of a book that also takes place in such a European country. And you know what that means. That’s right! We’re watching last year’s The Snowman. Based on the Jo Nesbø novel about an Oslo police officer, Harry Hole, they decided to keep the original setting (all the better for us) of Norway. It’s the first film we’ve watched for BMT that is set in Norway, so easy entry on the map, and I’ve already read the book. So basically NBD from the start. Let’s go!

The Snowman (2017) – BMeTric: 58.2



(This is basically by definition people voting on IMDb before they saw the film. This ain’t people going to film festivals and being like “hmmm, indeed, what a coherent and affecting crime thriller, I was thoroughly enthralled throughout. Sure to be a box office sensation”. Because 8.0 is hilarious. Who are these … what? Fassbender-heads? What world are we living in where people / robots do this kind of shit?) – 1.5 stars –  In the year 2075, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, and they start writing histories of 21st century cinema, “The Snowman” will make a very excellent case study. Perhaps by that time sufficient evidence will have been gathered to explain just why a movie assembled by a group of mostly first-rate talents wound up such a soggy, slushy mess.

(Oh snap. I held off from the rest of the review because as much as they tried to avoid it the review started to get mighty close to some spoilers. And honestly, with a soggy slushy mess such as this what things to you have to look forward to beyond the obvious misdirection the filmmakers will inevitably throw at you?)

Trailer –

(Hmmm, actually pretty intense. Considering the film is supposed to be rather boring I can’t help but think this is a ruse to get me to watch the film … worked. I even was rather intrigued when the trailer debuted and shocked by just how back the reviews were.)

Directors – Tomas Alfredson – (Known For: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Let the Right One In; BMT: The Snowman; Notes: Brother of Daniel Alfredson who directed two of the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films. From Sweden.)

Writers – Peter Straughan (screenplay by) – (Known For: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; The Men Who Stare at Goats; Frank; The Debt; Mrs. Ratcliffe’s Revolution; Sixty Six; Future BMT: Our Brand Is Crisis; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; BMT: The Snowman; Notes: Possibly involved as a frequent collaborator with Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). He was nominated for an Oscar along with his lote wife Bridget O’Connor for that film.)

Hossein Amini (screenplay by) – (Known For: Drive; Snow White and the Huntsman; Our Kind of Traitor; The Two Faces of January; Killshot; The Four Feathers; The Wings of the Dove; Jude; Future BMT: 47 Ronin; Shanghai; BMT: The Snowman; Notes: Iranian-British, born to an Iranian diplomat he attended boarding school in Britain and eventually went to Oxford University.)

Søren Sveistrup (screenplay by) – (BMT: The Snowman; Notes: Was the head writer on the original Dutch television show The Killing.)

Jo Nesbø (based on the novel by) – (Known For: Hodejegerne; BMT: The Snowman; Notes: He’s written a number of novels (mainly involving the detective Harry Hole), but also wrote a television series, Occupied. It involves Russia occupying Norway because Norway, citing the environment, tries to stop all oil extraction in the North Sea.)

Actors – Michael Fassbender – (Known For: Inglourious Basterds; Alien: Covenant; X-Men: Apocalypse; 12 Years a Slave; Prometheus; X: First Class; 300; X-Men: Days of Future Past; The Light Between Oceans; Shame; Song to Song; Steve Jobs; Macbeth; Jane Eyre; Eden Lake; A Dangerous Method; Frank; Centurion; Hunger; Haywire; Future BMT: The Counsellor; Assassin’s Creed; BMT: Jonah Hex; The Snowman; Notes: German-Irish he resides in London. He now has a production company called Peanut Productions.)

Rebecca Ferguson – (Known For: The Greatest Showman; The Girl on the Train; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation; Life; Hercules; Florence Foster Jenkins; Future BMT: Despite the Falling Snow; BMT: The Snowman; Notes: Swedish-British, she speaks both languages. She came into the business through modelling.)

Charlotte Gainsbourg – (Known For: Nymphomaniac: Vol. I; Antichrist; 21 Grams; I’m Not There.; I Think We’re Alone Now; Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer; The Science of Sleep; Jane Eyre; Les fantômes d’Ismaël; The Cement Garden; Samba; 3 coeurs; The Tree; Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants; La petite voleuse; Incompresa; Nuovomondo; Prête-moi ta main; Ma femme est une actrice; Kung-fu master!; Future BMT: Every Thing Will Be Fine; Confession of a Child of the Century; BMT: Independence Day: Resurgence; The Snowman; Notes: Her father is Serge Gainsbourg, a kind of jack-of-all-trades in the music and art business, notable for producing popular music in a multitude of genres. Her start in the business was somewhat controversial, appearing in a movie where she plays a young girl molested by her father … her actual father directed and starred in this film as the father. So … yup.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $6,700,035 (Worldwide: $43,084,060)

(I would call that a complete disaster. We certainly won’t see another Harry Hole film for a bit. A bit like Cross, which has kind of killed prospects for more Alex Cross adaptations, although I hope that isn’t the case. Despite being … problematic (Alex Cross is written by a very white person, and the protagonist is very much attempting to represent a certain set of black virtues, I’ll leave it at that), I do think a reboot of Alex Cross could touch on some very interesting subjects in the current cultural climate.)

#43 for the Thriller – Serial Killer genre


(Huh, the genre is all but dead. I actually think this is a two-fold problem. First, with true crime podcasts booming and things like Mindhunters (and Dexter and Hannibal before it) on television the market for serial killers is saturated. Second, will the history of serial killers in film, books, and across all media, there is very little of interest to show in a single 2 hour film. So the thriller has looked elsewhere for their thrills. And honestly … given the reviews it does look like maybe a little 6 episode BBC series would have at least made Harry Hole’s debut a but more coherent.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (12/162): A mystery that feels as mashed together and perishable as its title, The Snowman squanders its bestselling source material as well as a top-notch ensemble cast.

(That isn’t very illumination. So like … boring? Maybe a Review Highlight will help: “The Snowman” is ugly and nasty, but that’s not the worst of it. The worst is that it’s boring and makes no sense. – Mick LaSalle, The San Francisco Chronicle … nope, it sounds like it is mostly boring.)

Poster – The Sklogman (B-)


(They really missed on this one. Good font and spacing. It’s just… too much white. If you insist on having a white poster you better be more artistic and can’t spoil it like they did here.)

Tagline(s) – Soon the first snow will fall, and the hunt for a killer begins. (D)

(What year is this tagline from? Jesus. Can you make it any longer? I fell asleep halfway through reading it. Not clever, too long, and too explicit with the plot.)

Keyword(s) – snowman; Top Ten by BMeTric: 58.4 The Snowman (2017); 52.9 Christmas with the Kranks (2004); 51.7 Jack Frost (1998); 51.6 Dorm Daze (2003); 49.3 Snow Day (2000); 43.5 Fred Claus (2007); 35.3 Christmas with the Coopers (2015); 32.9 Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011); 31.6 Sint (2010); 29.1 Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015);

(Wow, we really don’t like Christmas movie huh? In reality the issue is that for the past three years we’ve done the year recap cycle to try and get as many of the established worst-of of the year off the docket. And it kind of spoils any possibility of doing a Christmas film … we end up having to do it offseason which is a little weird/)

Notes – Martin Scorsese was originally attached to direct this movie. He remained on board as executive producer.

The film is NOT a remake of The Snowman (1982). It’s based on the 2007 novel Snømannen (The Snowman), the seventh book in Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series. (hahahahaha. Obviously)

Michael Fassbender started shooting this movie only two days after wrapping on Assassin’s Creed (2016).

Tomas Alfredson has said that production was too rushed. He came on board late, and reckons that up to 15% of the screenplay was never filmed. Location filming in Norway was shortened so production could move to London, which compromised the story. (Ah yeah, that sounds like a disaster)

Part of the film was shot at The Schrøder Restaurant in Oslo, where Harry Hole is regular guest in Jo Nesbø’s books. Also, according to the book, Harry’s home is at Sofies gate 5, a few minutes walk from Schrøder. (S-s-s-s-s-s-s-ettings)

The Snowman (2017) and Downsizing (2017) were the first two international features shot in Norway to receive funding from the new state incentive program to attract foreign film and TV productions. Togther, the two films spent $24 million in Norway during their Norwegian location shoots. [2016] (And bother were a box office disaster I think)

Jo Nesbø has a cameo in the movie.

All of Val Kilmer’s lines are dubbed throughout the film. According to a Reddit AMA in May 2017, Kilmer disclosed that he had “a healing of cancer,” and his tongue “was still swollen although healing all the time.” (Yeah … )

Although mostly shot in Norway, great care was taken to remove any Norwegian language from the movie. No Norwegian is spoken and anything normally written in Norwegian is changed. This includes newspaper headlines and destinations on public transportation. Norwegian police cars normally have “politi” written on them (meaning “police”) but this was simply removed. (That is very strange as well. I guess, what? They wanted to be able to do reshoots in London or something?)

In the source novel, the police discuss several Swedish serial killers, including Thomas Quick (a.k.a. Sture Bergwall). However, Quick/Bergwall was eventually acquitted of the alleged murders. Brother Sten-Owe Bergwall and lawyer Pelle Svensson wrote books criticizing the Swedish authorities’ handling of the cases.

Apparently, Michael Fassbender bought drinks for the whole crew after a long day of shooting. The next day, rigging electrician Karl Andre Bru walked up to Fassbender and said jokingly, “Thanks for the hangover, man!” Rumor has it Fassbender cracked up and was unable to keep a straight face for the rest of the day. (NOPE! There is no way Fassbender heard that cheesy joke and was like “holy shit, that’s the funniest shit. It is so funny it is ruining my day, that’s how funny it is.” It is just impossible)

The ringtone of Rakel’s phone is cover of Edvard Grieg’s piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King”.

Leading up to the release of the movie, Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang released a series of mock articles in collaboration with Universal, intended to show how the newspaper would normally cover a case like the one depicted in the movie. They included articles about the murder weapon, Harry Hole himself, and grisly details of the antagonist’s murder spree.

The snowmen in the film are made by Norwegian kids in a small town, in collaboration with DesignIce from Trøgstad.

This is the second collaboration between Tomas Alfredson, David Dencik, and Toby Jones. The first was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). That film had Michael Fassbender as part of the original cast, in the role of Ricki Tarr, but he had to turn it down because of another project.

The film received a “D” CinemaScore. (Which is terrible, but not surprising considering the reviews. A thriller getting such bad reviews is pretty abnormal, mainly because I think you just release straight to VOD normally. I wonder if they had some deal with Norway which required the release)

Rebecca Ferguson shot this film before the press junket for Despite the Falling Snow (2016). In one interview, she talked about just shooting the other film while growing out her bangs (fringe) from this film.

The song “Popcorn” by the group Hot Buttered is playing every time the killer is at another murder scene. Either before a murder or during the setup. (So many music notes)

(Considering the terrible reviews it is somewhat odd that not only was this film not nominated for a Razzie, it wasn’t even pre-nominated if I recall. I would think at least the director would have had a shot.)