Written and directed by André Øvredal, Troll Hunter is a cracking good film and it is André Øvredal’s second feature length film. Made on a budget of 3.5 million dollars, it made just over that on it’s theatrical release. The film is a brilliant blend of Norwegian fairy tales and social satire. Considering the small budget the computer generated effects are very good and since they are based on classical paintings of Norwegian trolls the trolls appear both slightly comic and threatening.
The cast of the film is made up of ‘unknown’ actors and well known Norwegian comedians. Troll Hunter did very well when it opened in Norway and has generated enough interest and publicity that on the day it opened in the US it was announced that director Chris Columbus‘s company, 1492, and CJ Entertainment & Media had obtained rights to do an American re-make of the film.
The film opens with a black screen and the following words: On October 13, 2008 Filmdameratene AS received an anonymous package with two hard disks containing 283 minutes of filmed material. This film is a rough-cut version of that material. Everything is shown in chronological order and no images have been manipulated.
This written message goes on to say the despite investigative attempts, the film cannot be verified as being authentic or a practical joke.
We are then introduced to a three person team of college students who are filming a documentary about bear hunting in Norway. While interviewing a group of licensed bear hunters they hear about a man that the licensed hunters believe is a poacher. With their interest piqued the students track down and attempt to interview the suspected poacher.
The ‘poacher’ rebuffs their interview offer and leaves. Undaunted the team follow him until they finally catch up to him and his intended prey. Surprisingly he is not hunting bears at all. He is hunting trolls. His name is Hans (Otto Jespersen) and he works for the TSS (Troll Security Service).
The students, Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) decide to stick with Hans and film him killing a real live troll. The first night that they find Hans a troll demolishes their car and they have to ride out of the wilderness with him. They do this and decide to make their entire documentary about troll hunting.
Hans explains about trolls and their territories and what his job entails. He is the only troll hunter in Norway and it is a crappy job according to him. He doesn’t get a bonus for working at night or for unsocial hours and he doesn’t like how the government runs the job.
After Hans has killed the first troll, his government contact tells him that something must be wrong with the trolls and that Hans needs to get a blood sample for analysis. This turns out to be a bit difficult as trolls either turn to stone or explode when they die. Following a trail and reading the newspapers, Hans locates another troll.
He leaves some goats on a bridge as bait and dons his troll suit, a metal helmet and armour that protect the rest of his body. When he kills this troll it explodes and Hans gets his blood sample.
Later the little group find out that the troll has rabies, which is bad news for Thomas as he was injured by the first troll they came in contact with. Things get worse for the troll hunters when their camera man gets eaten by a ‘mountain king troll.’ Thomas sends for a replacement camera operator and they continue their hunt.
The film is brilliantly made. Comparisons have been made with The Blair Witch Project and in my opinion the film works better than Blair Witch by a mile. It really looks like a documentary. The camera work is superb, the times when the camera operator would move the camera or put it down looks real and more importantly feels real.
The subject matter is of course meant to be a mixture of comical and frightening and it is. In fact the only problem I had with the film was that the actor who played Thomas looked the spitting image of Declan Donnelly of Ant and Dec two English television presenters. It really did put me ‘out of the moment’ several times during the film.
The amount of beautiful scenery that the film takes in while the troll hunters are tracking their prey is breath taking. If nothing else the film could be used to increase tourist traffic to Norway. The travel scenes themselves are admittedly a little too long, but they serve to show how isolated the little group of hunters are.
The acting is just the right amount of stern and ultra serious from Hans. And the students act like, well, students. Disbelieving at first, amused, then frightened and at the end determined to finish their documentary.
Troll Hunter is a cracking film that entertains. It is escapism in the best possible way. Watch it and get ready to be impressed with this little Norwegian film. Oh and keep an eye out for the ‘big budget’ remake by Chris Columbus and crew.
- A Guest Top Ten Horror Movie List – Kevin Glennon (horroraddicts.wordpress.com)
- Thank goodness I don’t know any trolls !! [Peter Jones] (ecademy.com)
- Internet trolls motivated by `low self-esteem` (news.bioscholar.com)
- Troll Hunter (simontrail.wordpress.com)
- Story Therapy and the Recycling of Fairy Tales (millennialfolklore.wordpress.com)
- You’re calling that a troll? Are you winding me up? | James Ball (guardian.co.uk)