Troll Hunter (2010)
By: Fin H. on April 23, 2013 | Comments
Madman | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Norwegian DD 5.1 | 99 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: André Řvredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mřrck, Robert Stoltenberg
Screenplay: André Řvredal
Country: Norway
External Links
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Every once in a blue moon somebody comes along and gets this "found footage" caper right. In this case, it's some crazy Swedes. "They're Norwegians, Mac." OK, some crazy Norwegians. Troll Hunter takes the fabulous and quintessentially Norwegian conceit that trolls exist and are at large (sometimes very large) in the wild, and grounds it in earthy reality. Events are relayed to us via the camerawork of a troupe of students so fresh-faced and wholesome they make Jimmy Giggle look hard-bitten and grizzled. The impish Thomas, the cute-as-a-button Johanna and the off-screen Kalle set off in pursuit of the elusive and mysterious Hans, Troll Hunter extraordinaire.

In between pleasing vista shots of the sublime Norwegian countryside, we find out more and more about the ecology of trolls through the exposition of the gruff but likeable Hans. One of Troll Hunter's strongest suits is the way in which it takes such a fantastical concept and presents it as being perfectly reasonable. The fabulous traits of the troll species are explained away through vaguely plausible-sounding pseudo-science, with a lady veterinarian who specialises in troll medicine rocking up at one point to rationalise the fact that, as Norwegian folklore dictates, trolls turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

The trolls themselves are fabulously rendered and brought to life through exceptionally good CGI. By turns sympathetic, amusing and, occasionally, frightening, the trolls blend seamlessly into their picturesque Scandinavian environment and are a fine example of what can be accomplished by a talented studio on a modest budget. A complete and convincing mythos is established for these nasally-endowed creatures, encompassing a range of different sub-species such as the three-headed Tosserlad (the extra heads are just for show, apparently), the communally cave-dwelling Mountain Kings and the towering Jotnar.

With the trolls themselves presented merely as oafish and stupid (if extremely dangerous) animals, the film finds itself lacking for any real antagonist to menace our wide-eyed babes in the woods. The role of baddie could be said to fall at the feet of Finn, the shifty bureaucrat in the employ of the Troll Security Service, to whom Hans reports. For the most part, though, Finn functions simply as a bit of an annoying knob rather than a menacing agent of the sinister powers-that-be. A fair bit of suspension of disbelief is initially required to believe that Hans would arbitrarily decide to allow our intrepid little team into the inner sanctum of his profession, which has thus far been cloaked in the utmost secrecy. As we get better acquainted with this wry wrangler of trolls, however, it becomes clear that he is profoundly disillusioned with a job which basically amounts to roaming the countryside assassinating king-sized Homer Simpsons, and is prepared to blow the whistle on the whole governmental cover-up. Frankly it's a bit hard to see why the Norwegian government is so keen to keep the troll thing so hush-hush: having real life mythical behemoths lumbering about the place would probably do wonders for Norwegian tourism and the economy (they could open a theme park- Jurassic Proboscis!). I think the reason stated is to avoid a public panic (imagine what sort of bloody civil unrest would be perpetrated by the notoriously pugilistic and densely-packed population of Norway!).

A few other reviewers who have critiqued Troll Hunter have wrinkled their noses in distaste at the supposed abundance of "shaky-cam" (the phenomenon which afflicts many found footage movies whereby the whole thing looks like the camera was strapped to the arse of a hip-hop honey who was set to "bootylicious" mode and then given an encouraging prod onto the set). For the most part, however, this film actually looks like it was shot by film students – that is to say, someone with some sort of basic grounding in camera techniques. When all hell breaks loose and the trolls get their foll-di-roll on things do get a bit wobbly and nauseating, but this occurs only infrequently. This reviewer found it perfectly tolerable, at any rate (which is saying something for someone who can't get through a level of a first-person shooter without crawling away like a man who just tried to read War and Peace on a jumping castle).
Video
Madman's anamorphic widescreen 16:9 presentation of Troll Hunter really can't be faulted, with the sparkling fjords and the slavering hulks both looking as crisp as one could reasonably ask for. Soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 and in Norwegian or, if you have some painful aversion to reading, it comes with a dubbed soundtrack, which is completely fuckawful, and seems to have been performed by the cast of a Saturday morning kids' cartoon.

Extras are abundant but vaguely unsatisfying, with deleted scenes, improvs/bloopers, extended scenes, a visual effects featurette, a behind-the-scenes featurette, photo galleries, trailer and Honet: A Look at Troll Hunter. The deleted/extended scenes are pretty slender and notable only for a bit with a formidable-looking lady farmer insisting that wolves ripped off her eight foot barn door to get at her sheep because "that's what wolves do – that's their thing." The troll design sketches and so forth are distracting enough but be prepared to get heartily sick of Grieg's whimsical classical piece In The Hall of the Mountain King, which accompanies everything.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
By treating its outlandish fairytale concept in such a grounded, matter-of-fact manner, Troll Hunter makes for a compelling mockumentary. Convincing creature effects and an abundance of natural charm go a long way towards making it enjoyable (and it's hard not to love a troll movie which features goats coming a cropper at the hands of a bridge-dwelling beastie).

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