“Because they can smell the blood of a Christian man”
I heard about this film a few weeks back & if I’m totally honest I thought it sounded utterly crap. Despite my initial thoughts I decided to check out the film’s trailer & pretty much on the spot made the decision to see the movie. This film has trolls in it, big, huge, hairy fuckoff trolls in it! I know that fact is probably a given considering the movie’s title but let me state this one more time… It’s got huge bloody trolls in it! As much as I like to aspire to a certain highbrow intellectual persona, there is a childlike core to me that gets excited by zombies, vampires, mutants & … trolls! But in the interests of this review I will attempt to contain myself.
A documentary film crew is making a film of bearhunters in Norway when they are informed about a possible poacher named Hans. The filmmakers decide to follow Hans & try to get an interview. At first Hans tells them to leave him alone, but they persist & follow him one night to a heavily wooded area. Once deep inside the wood they continue the journey on foot as their car won’t handle the terrain. As they search for Hans they see bright lights & hear strange noises, then Hans runs out from the treeline shouting “TROLL” & heads towards his car. The crew take refuge in Hans’ car & find their own on its side with the tyres missing. After a brief conversation Hans invites the crew to return with him the next evening & the filmmakers agree. The next evening Hans leaves the crew in the clearing they were in the night before & disappears into the wood. After several hours the same lights ar seen & the same sounds are heard, followed by a huge three-headed troll leaving the cover of the wood. Hans uses a UV light on it & the troll turns to stone. Hans asks the filmmakers if they would like to follow & document his work, they agree. As the film progresses various types of troll are filmed & killed until the finale against a 100+ foot tall troll up in the snow-covered mountains.
As my obvious enthusiasm to this film’s subject has already alluded I really wanted to like this film & to a certain extent I did. Trollhunter is not without its flaws but remains an original & effective movie that does entertain. Trollhunter is another film in the “found footage” genre, much like The Blair Witch Project. Unlike The Blair Witch Project the camerawork is reasonably stable & the acting is certainly better. Otto Jespersen who plays Hans the trollhunter gives the movie a wonderfully understated central performance, imagine a Norwegian version of Quint from Jaws & your halfway there. Hans is a member of the TST (Troll Security Team) but seems to be tired of all the cloak & dagger secrecy & despite the protests of Finn, his TST contact & veterinarian, encourages the filmmakers to film his work. There are several attempts in the movie to explain trolls & their existance in a scientific manner. This isn’t totally successful but writer/director Andre Ovredal should be applauded for attempting to give the trolls a grounding in reality.
This brings me neatly onto the films real stars, the trolls. With a reported budget of $3million i’m guessing the CGI took up a fair chunk of it. The trolls look amazing. The size & scale of them is staggering, especially the giant one at the movie’s climax. The only problem with them is they look like trolls, therefore they lack any real threat or menace. The first sighting of a troll is brilliantly done, a genuine air of apprehension is built up before the troll breaks through the treeline. While the troll looks amazing, it’s a troll & most of the potential threat & atmosphere generated beforehand is lost. Sadly they are just not that scary. The movie’s other problem is it’s ending. It seems to me like Ovredal ran out of ideas & ended up filming a muddled generic found footage ending that fails to provide any conclusion to the story.
In closing I can still recommend this movie, it does what it says on the tin & is an enjoyable hour & forty minutes. By no means a classic, but… & I think I may have mentioned this before, it’s got huge bleedin’ trolls in it!