Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck, Tomas Alf Larsen, Urmila Berg-Domaas
By Alan Bacchus (reposted from Sundance 2011)
After a festival of heavy, brooding dramas, TrollHunter was a breath of fresh air. It’s a lively adventure film using the now-entrenched found footage technique mixed with a fun b-movie creature-feature genre.
Playing in the Midnight Section, it wasn’t a premiere for TrollHunter, as it played to excited audiences at Fantastic Fest. But with the elevated playing field of Park City, which meant more traditional journalists and international buyers watching the film, it was a significant inclusion in the festival.
We catch up with the story following two film students on the tail of an alleged bear poacher, who may or may not be hunting bears illegally around the rural Norwegian hinterland. The kids are both adventurous and naïve in their attempts to interview the mysterious hunter. Sensing the kids’ enthusiasm and the fact that they have a camcorder available to document the trip, the Hunter brings them along. After the first encounter they’re soon to learn that the Hunter is not hunting bears but trolls – giant trolls.
We learn that trolls are not uncommon. In fact, they’ve been rounded up and placed in special quarantined forests for years by the Norwegian government. But with four trolls on the loose outside their designated area, the Troll Hunter has been sent to capture or kill them.
With the delicious governmental conspiracy in place Øvredal executes a fun-filled monster movie highlighted by some fantastic old school special effects. Although Ray Harryhausen is the inspiration, the effects are invisible and seamlessly incorporated into the vérité found footage imagery. And Øvredal admirably learns from the mistakes in some of these other found footage films by keeping the camera level and steady most of the time, thus losing the ugly nauseating shakiness. That said, there are subtitles to read as well, so I highly recommend sitting way in the back.
Written as a classic b-movie anti-hero, the Hunter is placed in the Snake Plisskin/Indiana Jones mold as a soft-spoken, big stick-carrying fighter who completes his tasks with workmanlike efficiency. The seriousness of his demeanour and his ho-um attitude about the fact that he’s fighting living, breathing trolls contribute greatly to the deadpan, ironic humour.
This peculiar Scandinavian sense of humour, the incorporation of Norwegian mythology and even a little bit of black metal playing in the end credits all make this a uniquely Norwegian action/horror film.