With its big hairy feet planted firmly in two worlds, horror-comedy Troll Hunter strives for both titters and trembles. It’s Norway’s belated answer to The Blair Witch Project, as well as any number of CGI monster movies – a down-and-dirty mock doc shot entirely from the perspective of a hapless crew of student filmmakers. They’re following huntsman Hans (Otto Jespersen), who’s spent his life covertly tracking and killing trolls in western Norway.
As the title suggests, Hans is the star (Jespersen blends John Wayne bravado with Jeff Bridges charisma), but the real pin-ups are the trolls themselves. Stomping, mountainous hell-beasts, they’re part Dahlian nightmare, part something else, divided into different species (Darwin would have a heart attack) and suitably savage in nature.
Less savage is Hunter’s wit. The dry humour works in places (a troll can sniff out a Christian at 10 paces), and writer/director André Øvredal has fun playing around with fairytale mythology. Sadly, the arid nudge-winks only truly come into their own in Hunter’s third act, early jokes either getting lost in translation or simply not hitting their mark.
More successful are Hunter’s shaky-cam action scenes. Thought Blair Witch’s careering camera was difficult to stomach? Hunter pushes the boundaries of topsy-turvy framing to the max – and though Øvredal had a budget that barely scraped the two million pound mark, his film doesn’t scrimp on the thrills. Forest chases, cave stakeouts and one heck of a frosty finale all ensure that Hunter is no troll when it comes to set-pieces.
Last year, newbie director Gareth Edwards took guerrilla filmmaking to new highs with the made-for-peanuts Monsters. Troll Hunter takes the same equation – innocent nobodies minus big production values plus big beasties – and delivers something entirely different. Monsters turned out to be a love story. Troll Hunter turns out to be about hunting trolls; and not much else besides.
Anticipation: The memory of 1986 snorefest Troll is still fresh… 3
Enjoyment: Shaky cam with subtitles might prove too much for some, but the trolls are a towering achievement. 4
In Retrospect: Fun, funny and fearless. Hunt it out if you’re after something different. 3
Via Little White Lies