The Snowman is the most bizarrely terrible movie of 2017, we almost want you to go see it
It has been a while since a film this bad left us feeling this confused.
The Snowman is based on the 7th entry in the Harry Hole (stop sniggering) series of noir adventures written by Jo Nesbo, and was a perfect adaptation for the current climate of media consumers who love all things Scandinavian and murder mystery-ish.
The director had previously given us the chilly thrillers Let The Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the three (count 'em!) screenwriters combined had given us Drive, The Killing and Wolf Hall.
The cast includes Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson (who so perfectly played Tom Cruise's equal in the most recent Mission Impossible), J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny, James D'Arcy and Charlotte Gainsbourg, which is obviously hugely impressive.
The trailer dropped and promptly got everyone excited for a new murder-mystery franchise in the making:
Clip via Movieclips Trailers
That trailer, though, is a massive misdirect, and is a major signifier to what eventually went so wrong with the finished product.
At the time of writing, The Snowman has 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, and will probably go down as the biggest misstep of the year.
Trying to decipher what went wrong won't be easy without having a long conversation with folk involved in the making of the movie (and they're unlikely to be bluntly honest) but, again, it can be easily pin-pointed to by re-watching the trailer.
00:35 - Fassbender says "A woman was found dead. And her head ... is missing."
00:39 - A fish flops on a frozen lake.
00:43 - Fassbender again "He calls himself The Snowman killer."
00:45 - Actually, forget listing his lines, practically every line of voice-over Fassbender has in the trailer.
01:39 - Fassbender raises his gun at someone disappearing over the peak of a snowy hill.
01:52 - A woman gets her leg caught in a bear-trap.
02:00 - A distorted voice says "You could have saved them. I gave you all the clues."
02:02 - Fassbender is trying to break into a burning building, which then explodes.
Every thing we just listed there? NONE of that happens in the movie.
The official synopsis on IMDB only seems to bear a passing resemblance to the movie about to hit cinemas: When an elite crime squad's lead detective investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again.
And one of the marketing posters seems to indicate that the serial killer is in contact with Detective Hole throughout, playing some kind of cat-and-mouse game with him, which, again, isn't what happens in the movie.
It all points in the direction of a movie which most likely underwent some massive reshoots. It isn't unusual for major releases to go through weeks of additional shooting to clarify or improve upon certain aspects of the movie.
However, in this case, it does feel like they attempted keyhole surgery with a sledgehammer.
Which brings us to Val Kilmer.
You'll notice that he's been left conspicuously absent from the trailer (he is in there, he's the guy shooting the gun at the top of a mountain which looks pretty avalanche-ready to us), and all marketing material, and we think we know why.
Initially, we thought his performance might just be the worst we've seen from a major actor in years.
When he first appears on screen, it isn't entirely clear that it is him. He looks practically unrecognisable, the once handsome face of Batman Forever and Heat - missing from big releases since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang back in 2005 - is not its former self.
For his first few lines of dialogue the camera remains behind his head, and it is only when you finally see him speak that you realise why the film seems to be hiding him.
Bad dubbing has happened in blockbuster movies before - Jodie Foster's once-French accent in sci-fi actioner Elysium was dodgily redone afterwards, while Tom Hardy's Bane in The Dark Knight Rises was apparently strongly Caribbean before getting a posh English makeover - but the dialogue here not only doesn't sound anything like Kilmer, but the emotional performance behind the line readings don't match the one that Kilmer himself is giving.
It is, to say the least, bizarre. And then we found this...
Clip via 955KLOS
Kilmer talks about a recent tumour removal, which resulted in a swollen tongue and his voice being completely changed. This interview went out in early 2017, while The Snowman filmed from January to April in 2016, and reshoots took place in early 2017.
His performance will be a major talking point for those who see the film, and without the knowledge of what was going on in the actor's life at the time.
It is another layer of The Snowman's production that adds up to the addictive train-wreck that arrives in Irish cinemas this weekend. Bad acting, bad script, atrocious editing, and a complete lack of direction.
Norway looks pretty, though.