The Snowman (2017)

The Snowman

Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) stares at The Snowman

The suspense that is haunting me after seeing The Snowman is not from the story. It is wondering how in the name of all that is sacred did so many talented people make this utter piece of crap? I would rather shovel snow with plastic sandwich bags as boot replacements (and I live in the suburbs of Chicago). The film does give you chills, but far from the positive kind.

There are going to be a lot of names I mention that will make you realize how disappointing this movie truly is. Unlike the victims in the movie, these Hollywood talents will have their careers survive, but it will leave scars. Executive Producer Martin Scorsese (yep, you heard right) and director Tomas Alfredson (who made that timeless vampire movie Let the Right one in in 2008 and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy three years later) give us a movie that is grubby, drabby (not sure if that is a word, but it fits the movie), and muddled. Alfredson himself said the movie was rushed, and that up to 15% of the script was not even shot. I guess that figures out correctly, though to call the script loose is an understatement: I don’t think any screws were used at all to secure it.

It truly seemed like the talented Michael Fassbender was mopey the entire time. He stars as Harry Hole (I am all about character names where they have the same letter for first and last name, but his just seems weird), who I believe is a detective of some kind in Norway (which I did not know until I looked it up). There is a killer on the loose who is always ahead of Hole, leaving Snowmen at the scene of the crime. We also know that, as a child, he mother committed suicide by driving out on a frozen lake and waiting for the ice to crack.

Hole is also accompanied by Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson, who was in another bad movie earlier this year, Life). Whether it be as a team or as potential lovers, chemistry is completly absent. Hole also has an ex girlfriend (I think? the relationships were hard to follow) Rakel (Charlotten Gainsbourg) who has a son named Oleg (Michael Yates) who Harry is trying to be a father to (though he is not, I don’t  think). Even Mathias (Jonas Karlsson), Rakel’s current boyfriend, is cool with Harry.

Yeah, ok.

There are other subplots that are completely obscure. I am a big fan of J.K. Simmons, but his character, Arve Stop, adds nothing to the movie at all. It also hurt to see that his accent was just atrocious. Another character that is borderline laughable is Rafto. He is played by Val Kilmer. His character is told in flashbacks, but he is supposed to be a myth in the business of the police. Had Kilmer been given enough to work with (which he is given the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar), he may have had something. It also does not help that Kilmer seems to have been dubbed horribly (I do know the actor recently had battled cancer, so if that is the reason, then I obviously would not fault him at all. There is also Chloe Sevigny as twins, because…….um, well, it does something for the story I guess. Seriously, these great actors are just left out to dry.

Parents, there is some swearing, a bit of nudity (the Simmons character was almost borderline Harvey Weinstein which thankfully did not happen), and a lot of violence. I say High School and above. The IQ level you need, however, is anywhere above 10.

Even the editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, is a victim of The Snowman. She has worked on Scorsese masterpieces (Goodfellas and Raging Bull, just to name some). Being show in snowy landscapes, there are maybe one or two nice looking shots that got my attention, but that is it.  I mean, seriously. The only thing worse than a bad movie is a bad movie made by talented people. The Snowman is a movie that can be used to blackmail movie lovers (let alone critics), sending shivers down the spine.

There is still the worst movie sin that The Snowman does commit.

One that no movie, never, ever, should.

Being utterly boring.

Overall: One Star *

 

Let the Right One In (2008)

let-the-right-one-in

Eli is far from the typical girl next store…

This movie has you from the get go. The first scene shows a snowfall, but it looks like the black screen is steadily falling apart. It is rather spellbinding, just like the rest of the film.

I have not seen a lot of vampire movies, but Let the Right One In (along with its remake Let Me In from 2010, which is almost as good) is surely one of the best ones. It shows vampires as beings who have a problem, but do not relish in the fact that they have it. It is not a superpower, but a sickness of epic proportions (as shown in the original Nosferatu, still the greatest of vampire movies).

The Swedish (yes it has subtitles, get over it) film tells the story of Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a 12-year-old boy growing up in the 1980s. His parents are separated (he spends most of the time with his mom) and is basically a loner. He is picked on constantly at school. One day, a new girl moves in next store, Eli (Lina Leandersson). Right off the bat, she says “We cannot be friends.” The chemistry between these two 12 year olds (though Eli is not really 12) is more realistic than most “chemistry” in movies based off of a Nicholas Sparks book. Sure, Eli is a vampire (the picture above may have given that away), but Oskar only sees a soul going through the same things he does. It is one heck of an authentic friendship.

My only qualm with the film is it spent a tad too much time with the adult characters. Really, the only one I felt we needed to see much of was Hakan (Per Ragnar), the father like figure of Eli, who “supplies” her with the blood she needs. The other adult characters are interesting enough, but much of their screen time had me wanting to go back to the relationship between Oskar and Eli.

Parents, I cannot think of any other film about 12 year olds that is not for 12 year olds. Obviously, the film does have violence and gore, and some swearing (an F bomb here or there). There is also a scene where Eli undresses and gets into Oskar’s bed with him. It is nothing really sexual. There is also a very brief (and I mean very brief) flash of nudity (it comes after Oskar tells Eli about his mom’s dresses), but again nothing sexual. Still, the R rating is justified, so only High School and up.

I have stated before that I am a sucker (pun intended, since it is a vampire movie) for puppy love, and there is no doubt this movie nails it. There are not many movies that can explain horror, romance, drama, and art, and Let the Right One In does so flawlessly.

I found myself wanting a friend like Eli when I was twelve. Someone I could talk to when no one listened (or I did not want to talk to my parents). Someone to give me advice. Someone to help me out of a jam with bullies.

You know, minus the whole blood sucking part.

 

Overall: Four and a Half Stars ****1/2