The Snowman is the No. 1 movie on Netflix — should you stream or skip?

Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole in The Snowman, which is now streaming on Netflix
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

A new film just hit the No. 1 spot on Netflix's Top Movies chart. But it's not a recently-released Netflix original, or a true crime doc that has blown up on social media. Instead, the latest flick to top the streamer’s most-watched list is a largely forgotten 2017 film titled The Snowman. 

This psychological thriller earned a bit of a reputation with dedicated film fans, but not for the right reasons. As somebody who actually saw The Snowman back when it was released in theaters, I’m pretty surprised to see it suddenly resurfacing at the summit of the Netflix Top 10 Movies in the U.S. list (where it's been since Tuesday, April 18, according to FlixPatrol) in 2023. 

If you were expecting The Snowman to become a new entry in our list of the best Netflix movie you haven’t watched yet you might be disappointed. In short, it is a very flawed movie. But there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s look at The Snowman in depth and ask the all-important question of whether you should stream it or skip it on Netflix.

What is The Snowman about?  

The Snowman opens on the first snow of winter and sees Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), the lead detective for an elite crime unit, set out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a seemingly ordinary woman. But all that remains at the scene of the apparent crime is a snowman. 

Fearing that an elusive serial killer may be on the hunt once again, Hole teams up with a brilliant hotshot recruit (Rebecca Ferguson). And soon the pair begin connecting decades-old cold cases to a string of brutal new crimes. It’s now a race against time to unmask the killer, and their sinister motives before they can strike once again. 

What do critics say about The Snowman?  

There’s no way to put a positive spin on The Snowman’s critical reception, in short, the film was torn to shreds by critics upon release in 2017. The thriller currently holds a disastrous 6% score on Rotten Tomatoes from more than 200 reviews. That’s lower than any of the movies in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Its audience score is not much better either at just 18%. 

There are many savage opinions on The Snowman out there, but one of the most succinct comes from legendary British film critics Mark Kermode, who said in his video review that “there are many sequences that left me going ‘Wait, what?’” Which perfectly encapsulates the movie’s baffling story. 

The storytelling in The Snowman is the cinematic equivalent of listening to somebody trying to remember the plot of a paperback they read in an airport 10 years ago.

Adam Nayman, The Ringer

Alison Wilmore of BuzzFeed branded the movie “an inept misfire” and expressed their desire for “a behind-the-scene tell-all to explain what, exactly, went so wrong.” Rex Reed of Observer was equally critical, saying “Not a single scene works as anything more than a total waste of good film” and awarded The Snowman a 0/4 score. Ouch. 

The Ringer’s Adam Nayman wasn’t a fan either, declaring that “the storytelling in The Snowman is the cinematic equivalent of listening to somebody trying to remember the plot of a paperback they read in an airport 10 years ago.” Barry Hertz of Globe and Mail summed the movie up as “completely, atrociously, perhaps even impressively, stupid.”

Positive takes are very thin on the ground but Donald Clarke of The Irish Times did praise the “winning” performance of Rebecca Ferguson. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw went against the grain to call the movie a “serviceable, watchable thriller.” It’s not exactly a strong endorsement, but The Snowman will take what it can get.  

Should you stream The Snowman on Netflix?  

If the reviews above hadn’t made it obvious already, The Snowman falls comfortably into the skip category. I can personally attest to the movie’s shoddy quality, and I definitely that expect its reign as the No. 1 Netflix movie will not be a long one. 

If you're looking for something thrilling might I suggest you instead browse our list of the best shows like The Night Agent on Netflix there you’ll find plenty of content infinitely more worthy of your watch time than The Snowman. 

Of course, you might be thinking that The Snowman sounds so bad that it might actually be an enjoyable watch ala The Room, but sadly it doesn’t even manage to be that. Rather than being comedically awful, it’s frustratingly poorly constructed with a confusing narrative and seriously erratic editing. So, unless you’re some sort of Michael Fassbender superfan, The Snowman is definitely not worth streaming on Netflix.  

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.