Sunday, 23 June 2013

Troll Hunter - Movie Review

As I said in my review of The Frankenstein Theory, I am usually not a massive fan of found footage films in the same way I'm not fond of the feeling I get when I try to read in a car. But after enjoying TFT I thought I would check this one out for two reasons: 1) This was the film that The Frankenstein Theory was most often compared to in other reviews, most probably because it has the same combination of frozen wilderness + potential monster and 2) I'm a sucker for anything Scandinavian.

Yes, Troll Hunter (known in Norway as Trolljegeren) is a found footage film with subtitles, just like the half-decent Spanish film Rec. The fact that it's been somewhat successful means it will probably get a remake, but then again, I'm cynical.

The film opens with a trio of young filmmakers (that sounds familiar) talking to a licensed bear hunter who believes that another man known only as Hans has been illegally shooting bears. Our intrepid scooby-gang decide to follow this poacher and question him about his activities, as well as his odd nocturnal habits, but he pretty much tells them to go away please and leave him alone.

Or words to that effect

They don't, of course, and instead decide to follow him into the woods at night, where several flashes and mysterious roaring fill the night sky, followed by a wild-eyed Hans stumbling upon the group yelling "TROLL!!"

Yep. Trolls are real, and they live in Norway.

Having established his credentials as a troll hunter/non-poacher, Hans then invites the group to accompany him on his various troll-hunting expeditions. That's basically the plot, with troll action a-plenty. A lot of the trolls are based on Norweigan folk tales, lending this an air of regionalism that will probably be lost in a remake (grumble) and there are moments when obvious cultural jokes and references are lost, either in translation or simply not being from Norway. However the film is good enough and funny enough to transcend these, and they are minor distractions rather than driving the plot.

So what about the trolls themselves? They come in lots of different varieties and we see plenty of them (including one 200 foot fella who really makes the movie's third act) and the effects are uniformly excellent. We get a (very) brief 'scientific' background for them as well as names for the different sub-species. They are pretty 'balanced' as monsters go as well: large enough to be threatening and scary, without feeling insurmountable and yet not feeling like pushovers despite a set of known weaknesses.

So what's wrong with the film? The trolls themselves never really transcend being big and smashy monsters, with no real personality or sense of life-cycle except exposition and a scene down a mine shaft. The overarching plot (something to do with trolls breaking out of their territories and being infected with some sort of disease) is a very loose thread on which the film hangs and stops making any real sense before the end. The ending leaves a lot to be desired as well, with the 'found footage' concept limiting the outcomes as well as leading to some strange behavior from some characters.

Overall though, the film is a lot of fun. You should probably give it a go.


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