I’m not really sure how you introduce a film like Trollhunter. It’s Norwegian. It’s about people chasing trolls through forests and fjords. It’s what I’m reviewing today, so let’s take a look after the jump.
Trollhunter is a mockumentary fantasy in the vein of Blair Witch that follows a small camera crew as they follow purported poacher Hans across Western Norway. At first the three students believe Hans to be an illegal bear killer chasing the man about guerrilla style in order to confront him about his supposed murders. Along the way they discover that Hans is really a member of the TST, the Troll Security Team, a secret task forced charged with killing trolls who have wandered out of their territories. The film crew asks Hans if they can follow him and film his work, to which he agrees. The rest of the movie plays out much like its predecessors in the ‘real found footage’ genre of movies, except…with trolls.
The footage itself is not horribly shot. Unlike most of the movies in this category, the camera isn’t that shaky. There’s still the light wobbles and movement that comes from handheld camera work, but it isn’t nauseating like many of these projects tend to be. The plot is interesting enough; you’re treated to a pinch of action and tension, and learn some cool things about Norwegian troll lore along the way, all of which makes for an entertaining watch if you have 90 minutes to kill. Some of the ‘science’ of troll hunting and about trolls themselves doesn’t really make sense…but that’s not really why you watch a movie like this.
There’s also plenty of humor in Trollhunter, it just happens to be very dry. While not for everyone, I did find myself chuckling here and there. This subtleness serves the film well as the subject matter is fanciful, but at the same time obviously serious. The filmmakers know they are making a fairytale, but try to keep the material relevant. One thing I can say is that Trollhunter is just a touch too long. There are endless amounts of traveling shots, which really serve no purpose other than to show off the (admittedly beautiful) countryside of Norway. I think the first part of the film could easily be condensed to shave off a good 15ish minutes. But, once the film gets rolling, it really moves. I did find myself interested and alert once the crew actually started chasing after these behemoths.
Now, seeing as how Trollhunter is a small art house film, I can only assume that the effects budget is chump change compared to what I’m used to, so I can almost forgive some of the more head sagging CG shots. At times the special effects are great and honestly believable, but mostly they made me raise my eyebrows. The trolls themselves are downright ugly, which I guess can only be expected, but also quite magnificent to see. The first troll we see onscreen is slightly disappointing, but the trolls thereafter made me nod in appreciation. There is especially one specimen towards the end of the film that is breathtaking and truly puts the rest of the movie’s CG to shame.
Anyhow, what I’m saying is that the movie is alright—it has its moments. It follows all the trappings of the genre: a semi-shaky camera, an outlandish premise, an abrupt ending, and unanswered questions. So while Trollhunter may be a movie you might have missed, I wouldn’t blame you. It’s small, Norwegian, it’s about trolls. If that sounds like something you can get into, by all means check it out. But, I wouldn’t wander out of my way to pick up a copy.