Movie #20: Trollhunter

At first I was growing tired of the “found footage” sub-genre of movies, but recent TV series like the now-cancelled The River, movies like Chronicle and now this movie continue to expand possibilities. The title of this Norwegian film, Trollhunter (Trolljegeren), sounds like a cheesy Syfy channel B-movie, but actually it’s pulled off with a sober, realistic tone. As you might easily guess, the premise is that digital footage has been found of a group of college documentary film makers who start out chasing the story of a bear poacher in the wilds of Norway. When they catch up to this mysterious man, they learn that he’s actually a hunter of trolls and he brings them along. Apparently, despite their legendary reputation, trolls of all different shapes and sizes truly exist in the mountains of Norway, and this man Hans helps keep their population under control. Of course, they are skeptical (as are we the viewers), but it’s not long before they see the monstrosities for themselves (and for the camera). Despite its far-fetched, almost laughable premise, writer-director André Øvredal and the cast have done a really good job of making it all believable. Hans has an array of equipment specially-designed to take down trolls, plus he knows a lot about them, treating them like breeds of wild animals rather than objects of myth. (At one point, one of the film makers asks Hans about whether trolls were supposed to be intelligent, wearing clothes and talking to humans, but he dismisses that as silly folklore.) The movie focuses on following Hans, but there is a bit of political commentary thrown in as well when the government wildlife agency seems to be involved in a coverup of the existence of trolls (now you know why no proof has ever been found). As I mentioned, this movie mostly takes itself seriously — no tongue-in-cheek. However, there are a few humourous scenes (one where we see the film makers’ reaction to troll flatulence, and another where we watch the government agents making fake bear tracks to cover up troll handiwork) but it’s still never overtly silly (despite the premise). The film is pretty well made: the shaky-cam is not too shaky; and unlike the seminal The Blair Witch Project, we don’t spend a lot of time looking up someone’s nostrils. You will also be happy to know that it doesn’t take too long before we catch a glimpse of a troll. They may not [spoiler alert] be real, but the special effects are not bad. At first we only see the trolls when the film makers are using a night-vision lens, so the visuals are fuzzy, but later we get full scenes of a great big one and it’s quite impressive. To add icing to the cake, this movie also gives us a chance to see some wonderful Scandinavian scenery (reminds me of my recent trip to Iceland). Overall, this is kind of a low-key story is perfect for this new sub-category of movie, and I think it’s opening up the whole sci-fi genre to even more creativity. I wonder what kinds of magical creatures we’ll discover next. (4 out of 5)

20 down, 30 to go!

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2 thoughts on “Movie #20: Trollhunter”

  1. Saw this movie a week ago and loved it. Some parts are a bit campy but it works for the movie and keeps the viewer intrigued. Definately would want to see more movies like this in the future.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Andrew. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in enjoying this kind of quirky, low-budget, sci-fi movie. Obviously we both enjoy blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, but these are the kinds of movies that we need to speak up for!

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