Norwegian Troll Binge

Troll Hunter is a Grimm mockumentary

Seemingly assembled from the recycled limbs and organs of cult films from various genres, Troll Hunter is an endearing little Frankenstein’s monster of a movie. Although writer/director André Øvredal uses the exhausted imaginative crutch that is the fake-documentary format, he does so with alternating strokes of whimsy and horror. Had his bearded, burly central character been less stoically Norwegian and more manically compelling, this quirky gem may have found its way into a few mental treasure boxes.

Writing a synopsis for Troll Hunter feels like giving an in-depth rationale for why eating rat poisoning is a negative when a simple “you’ll die” will do. But here goes: Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) are three student filmmakers who think they’re tracking down a bear poacher when really they’re hot on the heels of Hans (Otto Jespersen), a professional troll assassin.

Norway has an entire governmental division dedicated to the control of the troll population. Their plan is to use what appear to be power lines to pen in most of the big-nosed, goofy carnivores while Hans bags any strays who wander off the troll reservation. Hans has grown tired of the relentless secrecy and lies and no longer wishes to only consider his sweet, sweet beard as his only friend. So he permits the school gang to come along as he monitors a troll outbreak, which ranks among the wartiest and stankiest animal control problems of all time.

The bipolar nature of the film’s tone could have been a strength, as there are both hilarious and terrifying thoughts that pass through one’s mind when considering the reality of giant, multi-headed man-beasts who can smell the blood of Christians. Unfortunately, Øvredal can’t quite congeal the horror and comedy together, leaving the scary parts feeling kind of funny and the funny parts feeling kind of scary.

And then there’s the complete swing-and-a-miss take on Hans by Jespersen, who opted to cloak his character in muted indifference, which is perhaps the ugliest acting garment one can wear in a cult film. Had he been fueled by the intensity of an unhinged Gary Oldman in his prime or even imbued with the smarmy, off-kilter sensibility of a Bill Murray, there would have been a bit more going on here than just a modestly clever conceit.

Actually, it’s for this reason among others that the recently announced American remake for once doesn’t feel like just a money-grubbing way around subtitles. The general concept, that there be trolls in them there hills, can be easily relocated to the sparse landscapes of a Montana, while the whole cast can be peppered by actors with that pesky-but-necessary trait of actual personality.

This isn’t to say that Troll Hunter isn’t a good time in its original Norwegian flavor, as the largely decent and well-select special effect scenes highlight surprisingly pretty cinematography. Although the opening text and general tone of the film owe their origins to the now-derided Blair Witch Project, it is significantly better crafted and the sporadic scenes of running don’t inspire quite the camera sea-sickness that was the Blair Witch barf-fest.

Troll Hunter is the sort of film that actually works better if you stumble onto it on your own…so, sorry about that. But if you go in expecting a sly little fractured fairy tale world filled with mild malice, you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and the film’s money shot isn’t a giant beast stomping about but a cleverly edited real-life snippet of the actual Prime Minister of Norway seemingly admitting the nation is actually troll infested. Fake gotcha journalism at its finest.

Grade = B-

posted at 11:57 pm
on Friday, July 08th, 2011

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Worst. Children’s Book. Ever.

The horror genre is not my least favorite genre solely because white people keep making period costume dramas. At their worst, horror flicks revel in sadism and do so shoddily, with weak acting,...

more »


Happy, Little Clouded

Actual human beings made The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and you can tell. A water-colored rebuke of the robots who computer-generate most modern animation, every luscious scene is hand-crafted and...

more »


No Big Bang

In 1965, Stephen Hawking wrote his first ground-breaking thesis and wed Jane Wilde. His paper argued that if a star can collapse inwards to form a singularity, then a singularity can explode back...

more »


Leni Riefen-stalling

On the one hand, any film subtitled “Part 1” is a naked cash grab. On the other hand, shut up and take my money, Hunger Games. Mockingjay Part 1, like the rest of the franchise, is billed as “Young...

more »


Oopsie Genius

I know two things for sure: (1) Birdman aims to relentlessly drive home one singular point, one thoroughly expressed thesis about life and art. (2) It does not succeed. You would think that would...

more »







Advanced Search