Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has earned acclaim for efforts like “Let the Right One In” and the Oscar-nominated “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy,” but his new film, “The Snowman,” is better off forgotten. The murder mystery from Universal Pictures opens in theaters Friday and has earned abysmal reviews from critics, with IndieWire slamming its “laughable missteps” in a C- review. The film currently has a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes after 24 reviews, and Alfredson is well aware his film is bombing with critics.
In an interview with NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Alfredson explained why the movie ended up being a misfire: “Our shoot time in Norway was way too short, we didn’t get the whole story with us and when we started cutting we discovered that a lot was missing.”
By Alfredson’s estimates, around 10-15% of the movie’s screenplay was not filmed during production. “The Snowman” was originally set to be directed by Martin Scorsese, but Alfredson took over and Scorsese stepped into an executive producing role. The film had been in development for awhile by the time Alfredson came on board and production was rushed once he was set as director. “It happened very abruptly,” he said. “Suddenly we got notice that we had the money and could start the shoot in London.”
Alfredson says that because 10-15% of the screenplay was not filmed, it left huge story gaps that needed to be filled in the editing room. “It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture,” he said.
Production on “The Snowman” took place in London and Norway. The film is an adaptation of the Jo Nesbø crime thriller of the same name and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, JK Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer, and Chloë Sevigny. Critics in Norway have been especially critical of the film’s geography, citing numerous location mistakes. One scene featuring Fassbender’s detective driving from Oslo to Rjukan features the wrong road that connects the two locations.
While Alfredson is comfortable admitting the movie suffered from production mistakes, he’s still willing defend its use of geography. “It’s not a documentary about the geography of Norway, I wanted to make a fictive thriller,” he says. “So even if not everything is geographically correct, I don’t give a shit.”
“The Snowman” opens in U.S. theaters October 20.