With a promising premise, a director with a good track history, and a talented group of actors, it is truly unfortunate that The Snowman, much like the stunted, child-like snowmen left by our killer, is such a mess.

The Snowman is a whodunit thriller that centers on a struggling alcoholic police detective (played by Michael Fassbender) who is looking for a new case to set him straight. He ends up getting it in the form of a serial killer targeting young, beautiful mothers with complicated personal lives. The killer’s MO? Before he dismembers his victims, he makes them a snowman. The film is an adaptation of Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s crime novels and directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

Though our vodka-soaked protagonist Harry Hole (yes, really) routinely leaves loved ones in the lurch and paints his boss into a corner, his professional reputation doesn’t seem to have suffered. His prowess for solving tough cases ends up inadvertently getting him a new partner, Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson). Bratt has been working on an intriguing – no pun intended – cold case. The snowman case. And Hole quickly shoe-horns himself into it using seniority and a do-what-I-want attitude.

After certain events unfold, the pair assembles a small team to help investigate a decade’s worth of murders. Along the way, they encounter a lengthy list of characters whose storylines intertwine. They are played by some noteworthy actors, including Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons, as well as several new faces.

Distracting from the get go, the cast clearly can’t decide the best accent to put on and how much to lean into it. Though Norway is a real place with real languages (unlike, say, Westeros or Atlantis) the actors effect a variety of cringe-worthy half-accents and few sound even a little Scandinavian. The Brits, who more or less stick with their own accents, are at least easy on the ears.

And on the note of strange deliveries, it would ring a bit false not to address Kilmer’s performance. I hate to be insensitive to his illness, but the re-dubbed, choppy dialogue is truly hard to watch. I can only imagine what the conversation was like in the editing room: “Let’s use all the over-the-shoulder shots we can. Oh and hey, Pete, you sound nothing like Val Kilmer, but do you want to step in here and do his lines?”

The bizarre editing decisions don’t stop there, though. Unnecessary close-ups and jump scares feel like some sort of in-joke. CGI is used liberally. The whole thing just feels spliced together and relies heavily on sweeping Norwegian landscapes and ominous blue lighting to smooth things over.

Those stylistic choices aside, the two characters who really matter here – Hole and our killer – just aren’t compelling. We’ve seen the gifted addict character one too many times to care. Sure, he’s messed up, but he’s the only guy for the job! We get it; he’s House with a badge, and the killer, well, if anything, I pity him. Not because he clearly has issues, but because he must be so very, very tired. He’s racing around Norway, drugging victims, dismembering them and arranging their parts in nonsensical ways, taunting policemen with notecards, and on top of all of that he must construct a snowmen at each crime scene placed just so. Phew! Someone needs a holiday (and might I suggest somewhere sunny?)

There is a lot going on and it is hard to make sense of what it all is supposed to mean. There are things happening in the past. Things happening in the future. Women are vanishing. Men are getting shot in the face. There is a pimping sub-plot and a lot of affairs taking place. Everyone has an absentee father. Chloë Sevigny listens to techno music and chops the heads off chickens! It could be a student art film if framed just a little differently.

Overall the movie just doesn’t work. It wants to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It wants to be Se7en. But it’s not. It is a mish-mash of timelines, plot points, and characters that leaves one feeling confused and deflated more than high on crime-solving. If you want to chance it, and more importantly, if you think can keep a straight face as the many variations of Harry Hole’s name are uttered by the cast, go ahead and check out The Snowman in theaters today, October 19th.