The Snowman

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Snowman Movie Poster Image
Muddled, dull serial killer thriller has gory violence.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The killer opposes what he considers "broken" families -- i.e., families with father figures rather than real fathers, etc. -- but the movie shows that these families can be just as loving and complete as any other kind.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are selfish, reckless, and not worth emulating.


Bloody, gory victims. Headless bodies. Severed heads. Severed limbs. Blood puddles. Slapping, fighting. A man shoves a boy. Suggestion of possible rape. A special weapon that uses wires to cut through flesh and bone. A woman drives her car off the road and sinks into an icy lake. Guns are fired. Gory crime scene photos. Chicken's head is cut off, with blood dribble. Injecting with needles. Choking. A man pulls down a woman's dress against her will, and another man admires her bare breasts and photographs her.


Bare breasts seen, but not in a sexual context (see "Violence"). Flirting. A woman removes her stockings in a way that's intended to be seductive. A woman rides on top of a man, clothed.


Sporadic uses of "f--k," "s--t," "pr--k," "idiot," "c--ksucker," "hell," "damn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character is said to be "a drunk." He wakes up holding an empty bottle in one scene. A secondary character is also a heavy drinker. Main character smokes cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Snowman is a crime thriller about a serial killer that's set in Oslo, Norway, and based on a novel by Jo Nesbø. It's very violent and gory, with lots of blood, dead bodies, severed limbs/heads, and more. Men fight with and hit women; in one scene, rape is suggested, and in another, a woman's naked breasts are exposed against her will. A woman deliberately drives into a frozen lake and lets herself sink, a killer uses a special gun that tightens a coil of wire around a fleshy limb, and a woman chops off a chicken's head (some blood). There's flirting and mild-to-strong sexual situations. Language is sporadic but includes uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main character (Michael Fassbender) is said to drink too much (he wakes with a vodka bottle in his hand) and smokes cigarettes. A secondary character also drinks too much.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTornadosplash44 December 18, 2017

Boring, yet violent crime thriller that doesn't get to the point.

This film was honestly terrible. It did not get to the point. In addition, the acting, plot, and suspense lacked. The film does contain some language. This incl... Continue reading
Adult Written byLuke J. October 24, 2017
It's okay but not the best.
Teen, 17 years old Written byJJ18 July 20, 2019
Teen, 14 years old Written byrurik123 November 4, 2017

This movie was a psychological Horror Film that is okay for teens 14 +

This was okay but was not one of the best movies that I've seen in the past !!!!!!!
Therefore, 3/5 star rating !!!!!

What's the story?

In THE SNOWMAN, a flashback shows a young boy enduring abuse from his "uncle," a married policeman engaged in an illicit affair with his mother. In the present day, in Oslo, Norway, detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), who drinks and smokes too much, starts investigating a woman's disappearance. With the help of new recruit Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), Hole discovers a pattern of missing women, all taken during snowfalls, all mothers, and all in unhappy marriages. And snowmen have been built at the scenes of all the crimes. Clues lead Hole and Bratt to powerful businessman Arve Støp (J.K. Simmons), who's trying to get a winter sports event to come to Oslo. But Hole's investigation is complicated by his relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and being a father figure to her son (Michael Yates). And the killer seems to be watching his every move.

Is it any good?

Based on a novel by Jo Nesbø, this crime thriller has a promising director and a strong cast, but it's a total mess, with baffling flashbacks, excessive padding, and an overall poor execution. Filmmaker Tomas Alfredson previously gave the world Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy -- both exceptional film adaptations of novels -- so there was no reason up-front to worry that The Snowman could be any less. And it starts well enough, using Oslo's snowy atmosphere to interesting effect.

But the characters and their almost-random behavior begin to undo things quickly. Flashbacks to a character played by Val Kilmer are astoundingly bad; Kilmer wears strange makeup, and his voice is clearly dubbed -- poorly -- by another actor. Digital visual effects depicting gory scenes look flat and unfinished. And there seems to be no end to silly coincidences and drawn-out scenes of a character simply getting from one place to another. Frankly, there's no real reason that the main characters should team up in the first place, other than the fact that he has no driver's license and she does. The mystery at the center isn't so bad, but the murkiness in getting to it make The Snowman not worth the effort.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Snowman's violence. Is it thrilling or gruesome? Why? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What's the appeal of movies about serial killers? What do they tend to have in common? How is this one similar or different?

  • The killer seems to think that "imperfect" families aren't loving ones. How do you feel about that opinion?

  • How does the movie depict drinking and smoking? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • If you've read the book the movie was based on, how does the movie compare?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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