The Snowman plot & ending explained: the killer’s motive

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Some movies were supposed to become huge successes, but then, for some reason, they performed worse than expected. It’s the case of The Snowman, a 2017 movie based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Val Kilmer, the film has a thick plot that spins around the unknown identity of a serial killer in Norway and the way Inspector Harry Hole discovers it. Let’s have the mystery, and the ending explained.

You can watch the official trailer for The Snowman here on Youtube.

The Snowman plot & ending explained: the killer’s motive

The plot and the ending of The Snowman may be hard to follow because the events are, in fact, supposed to lead the spectator to the wrong conclusions. During the movie, we tend to support the theories of the recruit Katrine Bratt, who carefully follows a long series of murdered women. She suspects the businessman Arve Støp and Dr. Vetlesen, both villains in the plot. We also realize that Katrine has a personal motivation to find the killer: her father was Gert Rafto, an inspector who died years before when he was getting close to finding the murderer. 

After many deaths and misleading hints, Inspector Harry Hole makes the necessary connection to find the killer. While interrogating Filip Berker, he finds out that Filip and Birte Becker were seeing a hormone specialist, a visiting consultant. Hole asks him who the doctor is, and we understand the answer in the following scene: he is Mathias Lund-Helgesen, the guy Hole’s ex-wife Rakel is dating right now.

So The Snowman has explained that Mathias is the serial killer who has been responsible for the disappearing women in the area for many years. But what is his motive? We realize that by connecting his identity with the first scene of The Snowman plot: Mathias is the kid we see at the movie’s beginning; he wasn’t accepted by his biological father, and his mother raised him alone. He saw her mother dying before his eyes while they were chasing his father, Jonas, demanding to recognize him.

Mathias grew up as an orphan, with the image of his mother’s face drowning in the frozen water. He always believed his mother didn’t want him, so he intensely hates all women who get pregnant and give birth to kids who’ll grow up without a father recognizing them. Mathias just believes those women don’t deserve to live. And as a doctor, he is in a privileged position to get in contact with those women. That’s what all victims have in common: they all had kids whose father was unknown or unclear, or they were pregnant in similar situations.

Therefore, this is the killer’s motive: an evil mission intended to clean the world from women who, in his view, don’t raise their children in the right way. By chance, Rakel falls under Mathias’ targets as well. But luckily, Detective Harry Hole understands everything in time and comes to save Rakel and Oleg at the ending of The Snowman. He also gets the chance to explain to Mathias something essential: his hatred toward women is unjustified because his mom wanted him and loved him as every mother would: it’s not women’s fault if so many kids grow up without a father, but more often the fathers are responsible because they don’t recognize those kids. By explaining this, he also admits his guilt: he belongs to those men who stepped back from their father’s roles by divorcing Rakel and leaving Oleg unaware that he’s his biological father.

The plot of The Snowman is full of fascinating aspects that deserve to be explained. Maybe it wasn’t easy to bring the beauty of the novel into a movie, but now you are aware of many additional points of view that maybe weren’t clear before.

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