Let me just read you a few names from the cast list: Michael Fassbender, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J. K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Chloë Sevigny, James D’Arcy, and Val Kilmer. Sure, some of these folks have made some questionable movies, but to put it mildly, it’s amazing that they’re all a part of this massive train wreck of a movie.
Detective Harry Hole is a drunk addict with relationship issues. He’s not quite a cop on the edge, but he definitely doesn’t play by the rules. One day, he receives a note from a guy about a snowman. He also partners up with a rookie cop, Katrine Bratt, who suspects there is a serial killer in Norway who becomes active whenever it snows, which is pretty much always. What Hole doesn’t realize is that Bratt is actually on a revenge mission to take down a rich businessman named Arve Støp who possibly murdered her cop father. Meanwhile, Hole is also struggling with his role as a father figure to his ex-girlfriend’s son, and her current boyfriend is weirdly helpful and cool with the whole thing. Eventually it all comes down to a final showdown between the real serial killer and Hole, in one of those shocking finales that will probably have you shouting, “Really? Somebody thought this was a good idea?” at the television screen.
Yeah, this movie is an absolute mess, and I haven’t even begun to talk about the hokey snowman motif, which involves the killer making crappy snowmen at the scene of each crime. Oh wait, I just talked about it. That’s pretty much it, too; the killer just has a thing for snowmen, so whenever he commits a murder or kidnapping, he builds one as a way to show that he did it. At one point he even puts a woman’s head on it, inexplicably changing his pattern. He also blows folks heads off and puts snowmen heads on top of them, in scenes that are both gory and stupid.
Is it all bad? Well, no, there are some lovely shots of the Norwegian countryside, though I don’t feel like I should praise the movie just because Norway happens to be fucking beautiful. Also, with so many quality actors, some of them do the best they can with this shit show of a film script. Others make some odd choices though. For example, J. K. Simmons decides to go with a weirdly high pitched English accent for his character that is both bizarre and unnecessary. He sounds ridiculous. Yes, it’s set in Norway, but folks mainly stick to English, so I guess he thought he could try something different.
This movie also has a bad habit of going into flashback at random times to show the events leading up to officer Gert Rafto’s death years before. What we get from this is that he’s considered a crappy cop because he doesn’t play by the rules, he’s an alcoholic, and he hates birthday parties. That is to say, he hates other people’s birthday parties; we never hear anything about whether he digs his own.
What happened? Well, apparently the film spent a long time in development Hell, and when it finally came out, it was sudden. The crew had to suddenly rush with a short shooting schedule, and over 10% of the film wasn’t shot. This means the film was basically put together in the editing room with whatever footage was available. The end result is sloppy, rushed, and at times incomprehensible and silly. It will make you laugh at crappy snowmen though.
Also, since this movie was put together in editing, about half of the footage from this trailer isn’t actually in the movie: