Guest blogger Emeni Rice reviews filmmakers André Øvredal’s Troll Hunter.
In the vein of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, Troll Hunter is a Norwegian mockumentary pieced together from ‘found footage’ shot by a group of college student film makers investigating a recent spate of puzzling bear killings. Their enquiries lead them to Hans, a supposed rogue bear poacher who, after much persistence from the students, allows them to interview him and film his work as a member of the Troll Security Service. Because yes, trolls exist!
The TSS, a secret government division charged with keeping the existence of these trolls from the public, employ Hans as their troll hunter, not to necessarily kill but to contain and control Norway’s troll population. Discontent and jaded from the bureaucracy in a thankless job keeping unsociable hours, Hans takes his new acquaintances Thomas (reporter), Johanna (sound) and Kalle (cameraman) into the Norwegian countryside to seek out trolls that have caused havoc amongst local populations. He teaches them how to kill trolls with sunlight and warns them about their ability to sniff out the blood of a Christian.
Full of droll (troll?) humour, Troll Hunter could have been brilliant if it stuck to the funny but instead it seems confused as to whether to be a comedy or a horror, not quite successfully combining the two. I was certainly feeling edgy when I heard the trolls but once on screen the tension dissipated, perhaps because when have trolls ever been scary? (except in 1985 film Cat’s Eye with Drew Barrymore – shudder). Maybe my ignorance of Scandinavian troll folklore had me at a disadvantage.
The special effects were great however and the countryside quite beautiful, if very wet. Hans deadpan portrayal works wonderful in this style of film though our students lacked somewhat in personality (so it’s quite satisfying when one of them gets eaten, hee hee) and the film was sluggish in parts.
Overall, Troll Hunter is a confused film has some brilliant comedic moments but lacks the tension and terror to qualify it as a comedy-horror. If you’re after a dry, satirical, fee-fi-fo-fun monster movie, however Troll Hunter is the film for you.
Across the remotest mountains, deepest fjords and treacherous Arctic tundra of Norway, the most dangerous and secretive of occupations has gone unnoticed for hundreds of years. By the dark of the night, one brave, mysterious man protects the innocent from an ancient and deadly threat without reward or glory. He is the legendary TROLL HUNTER.
Investigating a spate of bear shootings, a group of students soon become suspicious of a mysterious loner in a beaten up Land Rover who has been spotted at every incident. When they decide to follow him across the country, they soon realise dead bears aren’t the worst of their problems, they’ve stumbled upon the last remaining TROLL HUNTER and he’s their only hope.
Troll Hunter (viewed at Moving Picture Co., Soho, 12.07.11)
Director: André Øvredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum
Running Time: 90 min