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Review: Trollhunter (tbc)

Directed by: André Øvredal
Starring: Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck

I first heard of this by way of a trailer on iTunes a few weeks ago and it sort of caught my eye. As rubbish as they usually are, I really love it when movies come out that deal with an established myth or folklore story in a new way (that said, I have no interest whatsoever in seeing Red Riding Hood). Trollhunter is a Blair Witch style mockumentary set in rural Norway. A group of filmmakers on the trail of a bear poacher, instead end up tagging along with a bizarre government employee, the only one in Norway, who’s job it is to track down and kill trolls to protect the public while also working to keep them a secret. Sounds pretty bonkers, but check out the trailer to see why it caught my eye:

Things were never going to be easy for Trollhunter. A lot of people either hated the Blair Witch Project or are now so over the handheld shaky-cam sub-genre that they’d probably rather see the latest Michael Bay eye-fuck. Coupled with the fact that it’s all in Norwegian, the number of willing viewers had got to be dwindling. But, seeing as I’m not put off by shaky camera work or subtitles and I like special effects, I couldn’t get it watched fast enough.

The plot is the usual. Some hard drives were found near the site of an undisclosed incident in rural Norway and the contents have been judged to be genuine video proof of the existence of trolls. Where the story develops differently to Blair Witch, however is in the fact that the filmmakers aren’t originally out looking for trolls. They are originally on the trail of a man who they believe to be illegally shooting bears, something that only a select few certified hunters are allowed to do. When they follow the man back to his trailer they instantly discover that he is no ordinary poacher. After witnessing strange activity at his home, they secretly follow him out into the woods one night where they encounter a troll and one of them is bitten. Faced with the fact that he has been well and truly caught in the act, the trollhunter, Hans offers to allow the team to follow him while he hunts down the troll that attacked them. What transpires opens the filmmakers’ eyes to a widespread government conspiracy that has been going on for many decades, even centuries.

What I really liked about the movie is how it quickly and effectively distances itself from The Blair Witch project, and indeed Cloverfield. The fast paced story and the fact that you actually see the creatures (although not so much as to make a point of showing you) suggests that the director was well aware that his audience weren’t after Blair Witch: Norway while at the same time nothing as showy as Cloverfield. That sort of middle ground is actually very refreshing and just what you would want to see after a string of very hit-and-miss hand-cam genre pictures.

The dialogue was okay. Norwegian is a strange language which makes it hard to judge how well the cast are really acting but judging by their facial expressions and emotions, I’d say they did rather well. Camera work was realistic. A lot of scenes were either very dark or shot with low quality night-vision which goes to back up the story in that these people weren’t equipped to film trolls in the dead of night. They were there to interview people and look at dead bears. That said, it doesn’t leave you frustrated or squinting at the screen for too long without a decent pay off.

The plot was tight and the ending wasn’t forced in the way that a lot of these movies are. The credits roll at a nice logical point, recognising that, in real life, not all loose ends get tied up in an hour and forty-five minutes. That said, it does end comfortably without leaving too much unanswered or giving too much away.

Still, with all of these positives considered, Trollhunter didn’t blow me out of my seat. It was a fun little movie with some great tongue-in-cheek horror moments and a nice take on an old folklore tale but nothing legendary. If you’ve got a couple of hours free, go ahead and check it out, you won’t be disappointed, but don’t fall over yourself trying to get hold of it.

Verdict: 3.5/5

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