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Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: THE TROLL HUNTER



           The Troll Hunter (aka Trolljegeren) is, for lack of a better expression, one interesting monster. On one hand it is just another B-level mockumentary ala Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that is allegedly edited from found footage rolled by a group of teenagers tracking a troll hunter. But it is also a damn good monster movie, and a decent drama about survival in the Norwegian backwoods. This can be mostly attributed to the fact that, unlike most horror-muckumentaires, The Troll Hunter has a decent in-story cameraman. So, even though the genre still requires tremendous amounts of queasy-cam, we actually get to see quite a good amount of troll shots. I for one greatly appreciated this.


            The movie opens with a group of students tracking a man whom they believe is poaching bears. Like many giddy students concerned for the environment and endangered species, they decide to go out and film a documentary about poaching in the Norwegian hinterlands. The crew consists of Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), the director; Johanna (Johanna Mørck), his sound girl; and the cinematographer, Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen). The bear-poaching suspect is Hans (Otto Jespersen). Soon enough they realize that Hans is not a poacher, but a government employee, whose job is to hunt and keep the trolls away from the public. How exactly has the government been able to keep the trolls a secret is a mystery; especially when one of them could make a midget out of King Kong.

            The mockumentary look gives us a few good shots of the trolls, and also explains why most actions scenes are incomplete; you can’t shoot a film while running from a troll. I suspect this saved the filmmakers quite a bit of money; and for the first time I found this tool useful. We are also, slowly, through interviews with a veterinarian and Hans lectured on the nature of trolls. Some explanations, such as their aversion to UV light, sound logical. But the movie also allows itself some magic, and skips over the explanation of why trolls only like the taste of Christians. That The Troll Hunter finds a balance between the two only attests to the filmmaker's talent. 

            Now that I think about it, The Troll Hunter manages to find a balance between lots of stuff. Between being funny, and quite often very serious; between having a ridiculous monster, such as a troll, and somehow making it scary enough; between having bad special effects, but good design and cinematography, capable of hiding them; between having flat protagonists but actually making you care that if something happens to them the film is left unfinished. As I said, The Troll Hunter is an interesting monster in and of itself.

            Fans of monster movies, you know who you are. This film is meant for you.

            Finally, because I could not find were else to mention this, this film has one of the best endings I’ve seen recently. Just one final shot; that I guarantee will make the whole thing so much more enjoyable. But you have to wait for the end. 

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