Complete A-Z list

Snowman, The


Stars: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jonas Karlsson, J.K. Simmons, David Dencik, Val Kilmer, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny, James D'Arcy, Michael Yates

Director: Tomas Alfredson

In this occasionally (but unfortunately not often enough) cool thriller Jo Nesbo's famed hard-arsed Norwegian policeman Harry Hole is played, by German-born, Irish-raised Fassbender in a US-British-Swedish coproduction. Proving its origins, its 13 credited producers include Britons Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (The Danish Girl, Fargo), American Martin Scorsese (whose Algerian-born wife Thelma Schoonmaker receives an editing credit), Norwegian Nesbo and South African-born Robyn Slovo, while director Alfredson is Swedish.

The cast, too, is similarly multinational. Swedish-born Bratt plays the recruit who joins Hole in the increasingly taut cat-and-mouse hunt quest for the sadistic sociopath given to stalking and slaying women who have given birth to children with hereditary diseases.

Great Britain adds flavour to the stew with useful contributions from Jones, Gainsbourg and Darcy. Hollywood offers up Kilmer, Simmons and Sevigny but the most credible characterisation by far comes from Norway (vividly filmed by cinematographer Dion Beebe) playing Norway whose well-chosen, well-used locations are far and away the picture's greatest asset.

Apart, that is, from the eponymous snowmen left by the mad killer - they are genuinely chilling in both senses of the word.

To be fair, everyone in front of the camera (and behind as well) appears to have worked hard to bring the less-than-compelling screenplay (Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan and Soren Sveistrup) to life and occasionally the sheer creepiness of the story comes off quite effectively, but not enough to compensate for its ultimate failure to grip.

When it's good, it's effective enough. But when it isn't (which is rather too often) you end up looking at your watch.

Alan Frank

USA/UK/Sweden 2017. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 15 Oct 2017