Clumsy adaptation of gripping novel will leave you cold
The Snowman (Cert 15, 119 mins)
There’s little chance of confusing Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman with the charming animated film that has been a Christmas TV staple for more than 30 years.
One is a perfect distillation of childhood wonder from the pages of Raymond Briggs’ book, the other is a ham-fisted detective yarn with ice rather than blood in its veins, adapted from a gripping novel by Jo Nesbo.
Based on the best-selling series featuring Norwegian detective Harry Hole, this clumsily constructed Snowman cannot muster a single flurry of tension over the course of two glacial hours that feel closer to three.
A mild case of frostbite might be favourable to shivering with boredom through Alfredson’s anaemic hunt for a diabolical serial killer. Dramatic momentum is frozen solid from the chilly opening frames, and Michael Fassbender’s lifeless lead performance as a grizzled detective battling alcoholism fails to thaw our sympathy.
Harry (Fassbender) is at the mercy of his addiction — his toxic relationship with the bottle negatively impacts his ability to function at work and he craves a complex case to quell his demons.
Stumbling into work in a bleary-eyed daze, Harry meets detective Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), a recent transfer from Bergen. They are called to the home of Birte Becker (Sofia Helin), who has vanished shortly after an argument with her husband (James D’Arcy).
A creepy snowman stands facing the Becker house, and a trawl through police archives exhumes a series of unsolved cases involving mothers who disappeared or were murdered at the same time of year. However, the killer is one step ahead of Harry and Katrine. Unthinkably, Alfredson’s built an abominable Snowman.
Frozen: Rebecca Ferguson and Michael Fassbender