Michael Fassbender stars in listless, convoluted crime story that is among the year’s worst films

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Playground snowball fights have more suspense and intrigue than “The Snowman,” the most puzzlingly bad movie of the year.

This snow-covered murder mystery plods along so clumsily and aimlessly that it has the feel of something that has been reassembled in post-production by three separate teams, none of whom had any contact with one another. Indeed, the film’s trailer advertises a completely different film and is filled with moments that didn’t make the final cut.

“The Snowman” is based on the novel by Norweigan crime novelist Jo Nesbø, the seventh part (of 11, and counting) of his Harry Hole (stop snickering — on second thought, go ahead and keep snickering) series.

Michael Fassbender stars as Hole, an alcoholic, sleep-deprived detective on the trail of a killer who’s fond of lopping off the heads of his mostly female victims and placing them atop snowmen, and taunting police with hand-written letters.

Sounds standard enough, and “CSI” episodes have been crafted from much less, but the movie never gains any sense of momentum, let alone cohesion. There’s a red herring subplot about a womanizing Oslo businessman (J.K. Simmons) making a bid for the Winter Games; Val Kilmer shows up in a bizarre series of totally disconnected flashbacks, his voice dubbed over so poorly that it removes you from the film.

“The Snowman” aims to capitalize on the success of fellow Scandinavian crime story “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but all it shares in common with it is its fondness for snow.

Any chances of the Harry Hole series becoming a franchise just melted away.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The Snowman’

GRADE: D-

Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity

Running time: 119 minutes

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