Troll Hunter


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Troll Hunter
"In a filmic landscape littered with the lurching corpses of zombies and the emotional angst of vampires, it's refreshing to be presented with a mythology that is less familiar."

In a filmic landscape littered with the lurching corpses of zombies and the emotional angst of vampires, it's refreshing to be presented with a mythology that is less familiar. Norwegian writer and director André Øvredal has drawn on the folklore of his own country to create this fun take on the found footage/mockumentary genre. And although Troll Hunter has found a welcoming home in late-night festival strands (Sundance's Park City At Midnight and Tribeca's Cinemania), it is notable more for its wry humour than its monster horror.

The set-up is simple. Footage taken by a student film crew - now missing - has been found and verified as real. What begins for Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Joanna (Johanna Mørck) and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) as a documentary investigation into some mysterious bear poaching soon leads to something considerably more dangerous. They begin their film by tracking down the mysterious Hans (Otto Jespersen), who they suspect could be behind the bear killings. Moving from campsite to campsite in his beaten up caravan and worse-for-wear Land Rover, Hans comes across as a grizzled version of Ray Mears with extra attitude.

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Hans soon turns out to be nowhere near as scary as his demeanor suggests... but his prey is a much more belligerent than bears. Letting the amateur sleuths tag along so he can bitch about the lack of job satisfaction in the Troll Security Service, the film crew soon find that when trolls grab lunch, humans may well be on the menu and Christians are a firm favourite.

The strength of Troll Hunter lies in Øvredal's attention to detail when it comes to setting up his mythology. He creates a believable landscape and detailed backstory for these creatures so that they come to possess the sort of personality of which Ray Harryhausen would be proud. This is coupled with excellent sound design and the judicious decision to withhold a good look at the trolls, at least initially, from the audience, helps to notch up the tension. The creatures, when we finally do get to see them in all their glory, are impressive, sitting believably against the bleak, rainy Norwegian setting.

Oddly enough, the human characters fare less well than the monsters, with only Hans really fleshed out to the full, although this is partly due to the nature of the found footage style, which has a tendency to rely heavily on people talking inconsequentially and running about a lot. The 90-minute runtime means the film does sag in places and it never quite achieves the scariness you suspect Øvredal is aspiring to. That said, the off-beam humour keeps things ticking along and the ending is smart without being overplayed. Definitely the sort of gold-edged B-movie calling card that should see Øvredal command a bigger budget next time around.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2011
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A group of student filmmakers get more than they bargained for when tangling with a man tasked with protecting Norway from giant trolls.
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Director: André Øvredal

Writer: André Øvredal

Starring: Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck, Knut Nærum, Robert Stoltenberg, Glenn Erland Tosterud

Year: 2010

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Norway

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