September 30, 2011

Trollhunter (2010)

(AKA Trolljegeren)

"A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter."

Since everyone else is doing the "Blogger Zombie Walk" today, I thought I'd just be a total contrarian and review "Trollhunter" instead.

I actually watched this last weekend when it first appeared on Netflix but decided to wait until I'd seen it at least a couple of times over before seeing if I could write about it in a good way. "Trollhunter", you see, is yet another one of those "found footage" movies which I hate so much plus it's Norwegian.

Norway isn't exactly well known for its horror movies apart from the excellent "Fritt Vilt" (2006) and a couple of others which were not nearly as good, so I wasn't expecting a lot from "Trollhunter". However, I was generally quite pleasantly surprised.

Making allowances for the style of the film, the acting seemed to be pretty good. Obviously I don't understand Norwegian, so my assessment is only based on the actors' expressions rather than their delivery. Having said that, it's still supposed to be a wry comedy, but it undoubtedly comes across as a lot more serious to an only English-speaking audience, which is definitely a good thing.

After the unnecessary amount of overrating which "Dead Snow" (2009) got, I really thought that I was going to hate this horror-comedy just as much, but I actually got quite caught up in it and enjoyed it for what it was. Johanna Mørck, who was also in "Fritt Vilt II" (2008), really stole the show for me with her big-eyed, knowing looks at the camera.

Apart from Tomas Alf Larsen. who was Eirek in "Fritt Vilt" and "Fritt Vilt II", the rest of the cast seem to be complete unknowns in the horror genre. Otto Jespersen, who plays Hans the Trollhunter, is the best known to Norwegian audiences due to his comedy TV show, but it hasn't travelled outside of the country, so you'd be forgiven if you've never heard of any of these people before.

Glenn Erland Tosterud as Thomas had the most character development going on if only because he was in front of the camera more than anyone else. Although the titular hero is supposed to be the focus, he's a bit too dour to form any attachment to. Thomas' gleefulness is a lot more infectious, and he's the one that you want to care about more than the others.

As for the trolls themselves, they are very well done. Although they were meant to look somewhat silly and like something which Ray Harryhausen would have been very pleased with, they could be quite menacing at times. I've probably forgotten the names of some of them them but they include a three-headed Tosserlad, a Ringlefinch who lives under a bridge, Mountain Kings who fart a lot, and an enormous Jotnar whose spectacular appearance is given away on the DVD sleeve.

Writer/director André Øvredal alluded to fairytales while creating a whole new backstory to trolls which I found very clever. I also liked the camerawork which showed a lot of Norway. I'm not much of a traveller and should probably be ashamed to say that I've never had any great desire to visit Norway. It actually looks a lot like rural America in places only slightly less shit.

If you absolutely hated "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield" then you'll probably want to give "Trollhunter" a miss too. If you give it a chance though, you'll find that the Norwegians have actually succeeded where all the other "found footage" filmmakers have failed. It's just a pity that they didn't make any of it scary.

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