Hollywood@Home: The Snowman

Michael Fassbender plays an alcoholic cop out to nab a serial killer in “The Snowman.”

Getting through “The Snowman” is no easy sled ride. The crime thriller set in Norway and starring Michael Fassbender is dreadfully difficult to sit through and ultra confusing.

At first I thought it was me. Perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention and missed a key scene in the early going. Or, maybe films made in Norway are intentionally this difficult to understand. No, folks, it wasn’t me. I blame a confusing screenplay, muddled direction and unsettled performances. Despite Scandinavia’s frigid temperatures, the film turns to slush.

“The Snowman” is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø. The medium-budget film was intended to usher in a series of movies featuring detective Harry Hole (Fassbender). Hole is an alcoholic cop with few friends, but some notable success in solving crimes for the Oslo police department. As played by Fassbender, Harry’s as cold as the Norwegian winter and very hard to like. His self-appointed task this time is to link a fresh missing persons case to an elusive serial killer who has been dormant for decades. The killer uses a snowman as his calling card.

My chief complaint with the film directed by Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) is its failure to keep the audience engaged with either the story or its characters. Films about serial killers are time-tested audience pleasers. They should be exciting and free of clichés, if possible. Not only does “The Snowman” lack originality, it’s annoyingly complex and off-putting. The story is something to be endured, not enjoyed. It’s very likely that some viewers will bail before getting to the less than satisfying conclusion.

Maybe some day we’ll find out what Harry Hole is all about. He’s the main character in eleven popular crime novels. There’s got to be one better than this. Grade: D

A serial killer leaves his calling card in the less-than-thrilling murder mystery, “The Snowman.”