Troll Hunter is a movie that shouldn’t work. The whole thing has a faint whiff of the ridiculous about it, but thanks to a contradictory mix of absolute conviction and tongue-in-cheek knowingness it turns out to be a rollicking Brothers Grimm meets Blair Witch Project ride.
Purporting to be real footage mysteriously sent to a film company, the film follows a group of eager young filmmaking students who are out in the Norwegian wilds making a documentary about a spate of bear killings. Although the local legal hunters feel there’s something odd about these dead bears, they also think they might know who’s responsible, a man called Hans, who they believe is a poacher. While Hans initially wants nothing to do with the documentary crew, they won’t be shaken off and while following him late at night they have a close encounter with a strange creature. Hans is convinced it’s a troll, but surely these fairytale creatures can’t exist?
As the documentary crew gains Hans’ trust, they realise the government is trying to keep the existence of trolls a secret and that the powers that be won’t take kindly to them filming the enormous creatures. However, as the trolls are extremely dangerous and happy to kill (especially if you’re a Christian), perhaps the government has a point.
With this and the likes of Dead Snow, Scandinavia is doing a good job at the moment of creating fantasy-horror flicks with a knowing edge. Troll Hunter is silly but it knows it’s silly, and the conceit of presenting it as documentary footage allows the characters to express the incredulity the viewer is likely to be feeling. It’s all handled very seriously and yet with a wink, so things such as electricity pylons actually being a giant anti-troll fence come across as fun silliness rather than just being stupid.
However none of this would work if the troll footage wasn’t good. Thankfully, the special effects are excellent. Indeed it’s the surprisingly good effects (along with the concept) that first set the internet abuzz about the flick, when an early trailer for it emerged. With several cleverly done single shot (or at least faux single shot) action scenes, and a lot of very good computer graphics, it’s all extremely well done and very entertaining. Most effective are the shots done as if we’re in night-vision greenness, with the trolls looking extra eerie and dangerous.
If you’re interested in how the effects were done, there are some interesting shot breakdowns and looks at the CG models used. That’s part of a very good selection of features that’s worth taking a look through.
There’s talk of a US version of Troll Hunter, and from the original you can tell why. The idea of trolls running round killing people may seem silly, but they make a great movie monster. With the film nodding towards it b-movie roots while going full bore ahead with the thrills, spills and frights, it’s makes for a surprisingly effective film.
Overall Verdict: The trolls are coming out from under the bridge and going on the rampage in this extremely entertaining ‘found footage’ movie, which is filled with plenty of extremely good special effects.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac