Starring: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum
A group of student journalists investigate a series of mysterious bear killings by poachers, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, only to find that he’s actually hunting trolls on behalf of a top secret, deniable government department.
“found footage” is a genre in itself now. There have been many since filmmakers realised that you can make a movie for next to nothing, market it well and have it make a lot of money at the box office.
Trollhunter is no Paranormal Activity, it’s far more entertaining and more akin to Cloverfield. I’m not sure I’d label it as a comedy, though. Yes, funny things happen but it is played straight and that approach helps us to buy into the absurd premise. I’d go as far as to say that if you switched on Trollhunter on television, partway through, you’d think it was a real documentary until the trolls appear and you’d realise that they were special effects; because they are, right? On the whole, the effects are excellent. The only time that I was taken out of the movie, slightly, was during the cave sequence. The “hive” of trolls reminded me of The Clangers, but that probably says more about me than it does the FX.
The small cast is excellent. Otto Jespersen plays the trollhunter with a quiet understatement that belies his personal tragedies. The students all act convincingly especially Glenn Erland Tosterud who looks vaguely like Declan Donelly, with a cheeky face that you’ll either love or want to slap.
The movie plays on different levels. There is no preaching carried out within the screenplay but it’s difficult to ignore the satire in the picture. The satire is, on the whole, universal and translates well. Current common concerns are included like global warming and its effect on the Norwegian climate, government secrets, and the culling of wild animals. The beasts have a particular dislike for Christians, which is taken to its amusing limit when a replacement cameraperson states that they’re muslim to which the trollhunter says “That’s ok, then”. At one point, the trollhunter carries a small bucket filled with “Christian blood” to lure a troll. No-one asks where he got it from.
The government department of the Troll Security Service (TSS) is fleshed out but whose motives aren’t explained. The story is all the better for this. We’ve learnt all we need to know and too much detail would have ruined the flow and pace of the film. The comedy is more wink-wink, nudge-nudge than creating overt belly laughs but any more and the mood would have been spoilt.
Trollhunter is great fun and one of my favourite movies so far this year. Again, it’s a shame that the yanks feel the need to remake it just because Americans seem unable to cope with subtitles. Don’t wait for the potentially rubbish remake, see this version. It’s on the cinema from 9th September but I reckon that the movie will work better on a TV screen.
8 out of 10 (Wayfarer)
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