'Trollhunter' Review: Trolls are Real!
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Trollhunter? Well, that sounds stupid and generic.” Well, at least, that’s what I thought when it was first mentioned to me by fellow staff writer Ben Hanig (who holds it in the highest regard). But in this case, seeing really is believing; how good the movie is I mean, not trolls.
A foreign mockumentary based in Norway and helmed by director André Øvredal, Trollhunter centers around three college students who, after hearing of a mysterious bear poacher, decided to follow said poacher and learn more about him. Surprisingly, they find that the “poacher” is actually a government employed troll hunter who manages the secret troll population all around Norway. Fed up with the job’s demands and lack of benefits, Hans (Otto Jespersen) allows the students to film him while he goes about his duties as a troll hunter.
As ridiculous as the plot may sound, the film works very well on the basis its given. Namely, the presentation of the trolls on screen. Huge lumbering giants, it would’ve been very easy for the filmmakers to have skimped out on the CGI department and make this another misstep in the genre but instead they did the movie justice. Through a combination of clever lighting and found footage presentation, the trolls look incredibly real and blend well with the picturesque Norwegian backdrop. If there’s one thing people will praise this movie for, it’s definitely the special effects.
Aside from the airtight VFX, the movie also benefits from its no-nonsense style of directing. Though it takes some time to get the ball rolling, there are no unnecessary subplots or over emotional dialogues. I was expecting some out of place romantic plot thread to disrupt the film’s effectively suspenseful atmosphere but thankfully the writers omitted the traditional genre clichés. The result is a believably tense and white-knuckled ride of a film that doesn’t fail to keep the audience immersed in its troll hunting ridiculousness.
However, like many “modern day” retellings of old fairy tales and folklore, the scientific accuracy of the film leaves something to be desired. Obviously, so as not to lose any points in explaining how trolls exist, the film included an interview with a retired troll hunter who explains how and why trolls can be killed/turned to stone by sunlight and other troll myths. As dubious as a violent explosion by gastrointestinal pressure sounds, it doesn’t come close to how trolls can tell if someone is Christian or believes in God by smell. One of the few plot holes in the film, I would’ve left it out but it plays a fairly big part in the film overall so I simply had to point it out. However, don’t let any of this discourage you from watching this movie; it definitely wasn’t enough to detract from the pure and oftentimes thrilling fun of it all.
A classic example of a film that could’ve totally gone wrong but instead became a genre classic, Trollhunter dares to dream big and follows up on it too. If found footage horror or monster films are up your alley, Trollhunter will be a hell of a time.