Troll Hunter (2011)


Director: Andrè Ovredal
Cast: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Knaerum

The concept of Troll Hunter is an interesting one. We’ve all seen films in which the fantastical is kept a secret from the rest of the world. Harry Potter keeps the wizarding world a secret to the rest of the world. Toy Story keeps the fact that toys are alive a secret from people. And in just about every film Matthew McConaughey has ever been in, he has kept the fact that he is an actor a secret so well it’s uncanny.

Troll Hunter is a film directly derived from its title. It’s about a man who hunts trolls, and it is filmed in that shaky camera, mockumentary style that is becoming quite common. By all rights, it should be a good film, with its original concept. However, for some reason, it just doesn’t feel fresh.

The Plot:
Three film students (already familiar) search out the hunter, Hans (Jespersen), whom they believe to be connected to a series of mysterious bear killings. However, they soon learn that he is in fact a troll hunter. Becoming tired of his dirty job, Hans allows them to tag along and film him while he works. Along the way, the crew, as well as the audience, learn about the different species of troll, their habits, and how they can be killed.

It is difficult to specify what is wrong with this film exactly. Like Tesco brand foodstuffs, it just feels a little off. One thing that is becoming clear is that the shaky camera mockumentry is becoming old very quickly. It was a fantastically original concept with the release of The Blair Witch Project. And the likes of Cloverfield, Rec, and Paranormal Activity have all added unique spins to the genre, whether it is incorporating CGI or just excellent scare tactics.

Troll Hunter starts off in a very familiar manner. Three film students set out to investigate a series of unusual events. As it continues, you begin to notice certain tricks that have been used before. One example of this, which grated at me, was when one student holds the camera to her face so that it captures something happening behind her, allowing the audience to see it, whereas she can’t. It is an original method used to good effect in Cloverfield, but is less impressive here.

As the film progresses however, and we are given more insight to the trolls and their behaviour, it becomes a little more interesting. It is less witty, and indeed, less scary than film posters might lead you believe, but it scrapes by. Encounters with the trolls are the most exciting parts of the film, obviously, but they do not occur very often. One scene, which takes place in a troll nest in a cave, feels like it could have been handled a bit better. It is clearly meant to be one of the more frightening scenes in the film, but is difficult to take seriously when the trolls look like they’ve been rejected from the muppet show for being too glum (and flatulent).

It recovers pretty well in the final act, in which the most impressive troll of the film is revealed. Praise should be given simply for the technical achievement of creating something so awe-inspiring with the hand-held camera style of filming. It very much feels like the entire film is a build up to this moment, and, for that moment, it seems to land perfectly.

However, the tricky question that needs answering is, what exactly is the point?

(Editors note: The writer of this article did not suddenly become a manic-depressive. He is referring to the point of the film. Not life. That would suck)

Due to the deliberately poor quality of the Blair Witch, the film withheld just enough information to make people wonder….could the events of the film be true? To a certain extent, though far less effective, the same could be said for Paranormal Activity. Cloverfield and Rec are clearly just going for thrills, and this worked well when the shaky camera medium was still fresh.

But what exactly is Troll Hunter trying to achieve? It can’t really be scares, as the film isn’t presented as such. There is no question whatsoever that, while watching the film, you are watching fictionalised events. The CGI for the trolls, though visually impressive, is still very obviously CGI. How much can you really care about a topic that, in attempt to present itself as authentic, succeeds only in highlighting the fact that it is very much fictional?

Overall:
Troll Hunter is an interesting film that makes some bad choices. It is rarely scary when it tries to be. It is not as interesting as it thinks it is. And the decision to make it into a mockumentary is a very bad one, considering the subject matter. As I’ve mentioned already, it scrapes by. Some of the troll encounters are well worth watching. And whereas the film students are instantly forgettable, Hans makes for a good character study. It would have benefitted from either leaning towards the more fantastical (a more typical camera style) or the more serious (withholding more sightings of the trolls), but as it does neither, the combination of the two jars horribly. That said, the final troll encounter is a visual treat and worth the ticket price alone.

Awful Rating: 6/10

There are Trolls in Norway” – Norwegian Prime Minister

Shamelessly Awful Facts (about trolls):

  • The idea of trolls had always scared me as a kid. I have three particularly vivid recollections of my ‘encounters’ with them:
    1. The first was in a book I read. It was about a girl trapped in a tower with a troll. Who was trying to eat her. And, looking back this is probably what was so scary about the story, she only heard him roaring in the story, never saw him. How was this a children’s book?!
    2. The second encounter was actually in a dream when I was about five or so. I dreamt I had gotten out of bed to go somewhere (bathroom, kitchen, bat cave, not sure). My room was at the very end of a long hallway to the right, my parents room on the left. As soon as I left my room, I saw a troll type creature at the end of the hallway. It was covered in blue fur and for some reason was wearing brown dungarees. It had a huge head and eyes. In fact, he looked a lot like a blue version of this guy:
      Anyway, he started walking slowly up the hallway and that’s when I noticed both doors were closed and, as happens so often in dreams, locked. When he got really close, I woke up and jumped on my windowsill to console myself.
    3. The final terrifying encounter I had with trolls comes from a delightful film, one of my favourites. In the movie Willow, trolls are depicted as angry monkey like creatures, which I found horrifying as a kid. Though, oddly, they also reminded me of one of my aunts. She had big hair. Anyway, this is a clip of the evil trolls which I found so terrifying. The whole thing is a pretty awesome scene, but the trolls show up at the start:
  • The last thing I will say about troll films is that one of them has the esteemed honour of having the worst lines in movie history. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the infamous OH MY GOOOOOOOD scene from Troll 2:
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Published in: on September 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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