The Snowman Ending, Explained: Who is the Killer?

‘The Snowman’ is a 2017 mystery thriller directed by Tomas Alfredson. It’s based on the 2007 Jo Nesbø novel of the same name. Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, and Val Kilmer, this movie follows a series of murders at the hands of a serial killer who leaves behind trademark snowmen in all his crime scenes. Harry Holes, along with a recruit from Bergen, Katrine Bratt, are the lead detectives looking into the disappearances of women with a thin thread in common, tying them together. ‘The Snowman’ tells an enthralling story about a sociopath with suspense laced heavily throughout every plot point. If you’re curious to see where Holes and Bratt’s investigation leads them and what it reveals about the characters, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Snowman.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Snowman Plot Synopsis

The story opens with a mother, Sarah living in a remote cottage with her young son. They’re visited by Jonas, the boy’s biological father, who is prone to anger and abuse. After Sarah threatens to disclose knowledge of Jonas’s illegitimate son to his family, Jonas immediately leaves and drives away. Sarah and her son try to chase after him, but after losing his trail, Sarah lets go of the steering wheel, and the car swerves off to a frozen lake. Sarah watches as her son gets out of the car but refuses to exit the dangerous situation herself. The ice below breaks, and Sarah drowns underwater with her car while her son watches.

Fast forward a handful of years, Harry Hole is an inspector in Norway dealing with alcoholism. He also went through a breakup with Rakel but is still close with her son Oleg. Oleg doesn’t know who his biological father is and dislikes Rakel’s new boyfriend, Mathias. However, he enjoys Harry’s company, who treats him like his own son. At work, Harry meets the transfer recruit from Bergen, Katrine Bratt. He later asks her for a lift, and while she is away from her car, Harry slips away the confidential file Katrine carries with her. In that file, Harry finds case reports about an investigation by a cop named Gert Rafto, looking into the disappearance of Frederik Aasen’s wife.

Meanwhile, Katerine responds to a call about a missing person, Birte Becker, mother of a little girl, Josephine. Birte had disappeared at night, leaving her daughter alone in the house. After noticing a snowman built in the front yard, Harry has a conversation with Josephine. When he asks her about the snowman, she tells him she wasn’t the one who had made him. Though Harry is dismissive of the case at first, Katerine is adamant about something being wrong. Afterward, while Harry is at a concert with Oleg, he gets a call from Katerine, who tells him about another missing person reports the station received. This time it is of a woman named Sylvia Ottersen. The call came from her husband, who specifically requested Harry.

The next morning, Harry and Katerine drive out to the house and find Sylvia Ottersen in the barn with her chickens, alive and well. When asked about her husband, Sylvia tells the duo that he has gone to pick up her sister from the airport. However, after the two leave, Sylvia calls up her husband and tells him that if he tries to contact her again, she will report him to the police. Sometime later, when Harry and Katerine are driving back to the station, they get another call about Sylvia’s disappearance. When they return back to the barn, they find Sylvia’s dead body beheaded. They also find her head in a mill, fixed above a snowman’s body.

After discovering a mutual link between all the victims, Idar Vetlesen, a doctor, the duo tries to interrogate him but fails. Katerine suspects Vetlesen’s acquaintance, Arve Støp, to be behind the killings. Meanwhile, Harry travels out to Bergen to look into Rafto. After a conversation with Rafto’s old boss Harry finds that Rafto had apparently committed suicide in his cabin by putting a bullet in his face. However, after going through the pictures from the crime scene, Harry suspects Rafto’s death to have a connection to the Snowman Killer. While Harry is away, Katerine receives a call about a signal transmitting from Birte’s phone. After tracking the transmission to Vetlesen’s house, Katerine leaves to arrest him. Katerine finds Vetlesen’s dead body in his garage, resembling Rafto’s death. The police find remains of Birte and another victim at Vetlesen’s place and suspend Katerine for failing to follow protocol.

After the Killer’s most recent murder, Harry finds a peculiar lead and follows it by visiting Brite’s husband, Filip. After discovering a damning connection between all the victims, Harry realizes there’s one man at the epicenter of it all. However, by now, the Killer has set its sight on his new victims: Harry’s ex-girlfriend, Rakel, and her son.

The Snowman Ending: Who is The Snowman?

Being the titular character, the Snowman serial killer forms the basis of the entire movie. The killer seems to target women who may have made controversial life choices, like getting an abortion or engaging in extramarital affairs. After every kill, he also leaves behind a snowman with coffee beans for its eyes at every crime scene. The killer’s snowman is a replica of the one we see at the start of the film, with Sarah’s kid.

Harry and Katerine investigate the case as the plot progresses and pin down corrupt businessman Arve Støp as their lead suspect. However, Harry realizes their hunch is wrong after he has a conversation with Brite’s husband, Filip. Filip tells Harry that he found out he was infertile after visiting a hormone specialist: Mathias Lund-Helgesen. Harry realizes Rakel and Olgen are in danger and tracks Mathias down to a cottage in a remote area. It’s the same cottage that Sarah and her kid lived in.

Inside the cottage, Mathias has Rakel and Olgen tied to chairs at the dining table. He has a cable harness trained around Rakel’s neck and plans on killing her. Mathias is Sarah’s kid from the start of the movie, and after witnessing his mother’s death, Mathias starts to blame her for everything that is wrong with his life. Therefore, he took to killing any woman he personally deems as a bad mother, as some convoluted revenge ploy against his own mother. Harry tries to get him to see that Sarah had also been a victim and the real bad guy in the situation all along was Jonas. Mathias runs away from the house, and Harry chases after him. While Harry looks for Mathias in the frozen lake clearing, Mathias shoots him in the arm. As he makes his way to Harry, the ice gives out beneath him, and he drowns to his death, surrounded by the cold, in the same fashion as his mother.

What Happens to Katerine Bratt?

Katerine is very passionate about this case and desperately wants to find out the Snowman Killer and bring him to justice. The reason behind her enhanced drive is that she is the daughter of Inspector Gert Rafto. Gert Rafto died shortly after finding the dead body of Frederick Aasen’s wife. She had been cheating on Frederick and was pregnant with another man’s baby during their marriage. Mrs. Aasen’s disappearance had been the work of The Snowman. Due to Rafto’s involvement with the case, The Snowman killed him in his own house. Rafto’s murder was made to look like a suicide. However, Harry notices the coffee beans in the background of a crime scene photograph and realizes the truth. Katerine likely came to the same conclusion and started investigating similar cases.

After the police suspend Katerin from her job, Katerine loses jurisdiction to investigate the serial killer. Nevertheless, she doesn’t let that stop her and goes after Arve Støp while he is attending an event. She seduces him and gets access to his room. After setting up hidden cameras to collect evidence, Katerine waits for Støp in his room. In the end, Katerine does encounter the Snowman— it just isn’t who she thought it was. Taken by surprise, Katerine valiantly tries to fight against the killer but loses. The next morning Harry wakes to find Katerine’s car parked outside his house with a snowman drawn on top of the hood. He finds her body inside her car.

Do Harry and Rakel Get Back Together?

Harry has a very defining relationship with his ex-girlfriend Rakel and her son Ogel. He spends most of his time outside the office with them and acts as a father figure for the kid in several instances. Though the pair is no longer together, with Rakel even having a new boyfriend, it is still clear that she and Harry still have some feelings for each other. They even share an encounter in which they almost sleep together again. Regardless of this connection and closeness they all share, Harry and Rakel are still only friends and seem content with their situation as it is.

When Mathis kidnaps Oleg and his mother, he tries to project his own trauma onto Oleg. He accuses Rakel of being a bad mother for the lack of Oleg’s biological father’s involvement in his life. Likewise, Mathias asks Harry why he isn’t entirely present in Oleg’s life despite the kid looking up to him. Harry admits things didn’t work out between him and Rakel because he is an addict. While this admission alludes to his actual issues with alcoholism, it also references the fact that he is addicted to the constant adrenaline rush of his job as a homicide detective. Harry believes he isn’t good enough to be a part of Rakel and Ogel’s life. However, he’s still selfish enough to be unable to give them up completely. At the end of the movie, Harry is in his office and volunteers for a dangerous homicide case. Though the film fails to provide any firm input on whether Harry and Rakel get back together, it is safe to assume they don’t. Harry is still the same and likely still believes that Rakel deserves better than someone like him.

Read More: The Snowman Filming Location Details