Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Tosterud, Johanna Morck, Tomas Larsen
“People always want natural explanations for things. But if you know what to look for, you’ll see what’s been caused by trolls.” (Hans, Troll Hunter)
The billboards currently advertising Troll Hunter claim it’s “the best monster movie since Jurassic Park.” This claim is, to put it as kindly as possible, a load of old arse. That’s not to say it isn’t an impressive film – it certainly is – but if you’re going into it expecting a modern masterpiece then, rather fittingly, you’ve been trolled. Instead, if I’d been in charge of the ad campaign, I’d have gone with something a little more accurate: “a bit like The Blair Witch Project, only you actually see something.”
Indeed, Troll Hunter‘s handheld amateur footage looks just like an HD version of Blair Witch or Cloverfield, as it follows a trio of Norwegian college students as they film a documentary investigating a bunch of mysterious bear killings. Eventually they come across Hans, a mysterious chap who it soon emerges is a troll hunter. He agrees to let the filmmakers tag along on his hunt, as long as they follow his instructions. But are trolls real, or is he just a delusional old dick?
Well, thankfully, the trolls do eventually turn up and they’re pretty bloody impressive. I’m not usually an ambassador of CGI in films but at times here it’s very convincing (especially given the extra difficulties placed on the animators with the unsteady and often grainy camera), and when the final troll turns up it just kicks things up another notch.
The faux-documentary gimmick also works pretty well in Troll Hunter. Often this sort of film is ruined by the actors failing to give realistic performances, but here it’s all very convincing – at times the actors will stumble over words and talk over each other’s lines, and you’d swear the various interviewees encountered throughout the course of the film were just normal people taking part in a documentary.
It’s not a perfect film, mind you. The pace is a little slow throughout the film’s first hour, and there are some annoyingly unresolved plot points. One character is bitten by a troll fairly early on, and near the end the film appears to be building to a twist ending involving the result of that bite, but it ultimately never comes to anything. Indeed, the ending in general is deeply disappointing, as it’s so abrupt and weakly handled they might as well have shown a message saying “we don’t actually know how to end this so we’ll just stop there”.
Negative points aside, Troll Hunter is one of the better “uncovered handheld footage” films out there, with the superb CGI effects really having a positive impact (check the trailer below for great examples of this). It’s not perhaps as action-packed as the ads would have you believe, but it’s a nifty little effort that does Norway proud.