Movies You May Have Missed: Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter is a great little film, I’ll say that straight away. It got a fair amount of publicity in the UK actually, but its cinema run was very, very limited. Understandably – it’s in Norweigian with an all-Norweigian cast, and based very much in Norweigian culture and folklore. But that doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable for the rest of us.

In a very, very Blair Witch Project style, the film begins with some film students making a documentary. They’re looking for a poacher. Apparently he’s been killing bears illegally. We don’t know why they want him specifically (although we find out later), but when they do find him he’s very… short with them. After following him around for a while (creepy), they find him in a forest. There’s a flash of light, and the man appears, roaring the film’s catchphrase – ‘Troll!’. From then on, the students follow this man, the troll hunter of the title, on his business.

The first thing to say about Troll Hunter is the trolls themselves are rendered entirely with GCI. Elaborate GCI with handheld shaky-cam style footage? Really? I know, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the trolls are beautifully done. It’s been billed as a horror-comedy, but there’s really no horror to be found, just fantasy. The trolls come straight out of Norweigian myth. You’ve got two main types and subtypes. They do turn to stone in the light – or explode. They do live under bridges. But, as Hans the troll hunter says, not everything in the fairytales is true.

This is a very, very funny film. Genuinely. It knows it’s silly, and plays on that, with a completely straight face. At one point, the only Christian in the group confesses to his faith in terror, as trolls can smell the blood and sweat of Christians. Hans turns around and replies ‘You’d better not sweat’. It’s deadpan delivery like this that gives Troll Hunter its comedy. It takes a daft subject and involves you, but never loses sight of the fact that a man who chases trolls is silly. As already mentioned, the director makes use of the shaky-cam popularised by The Blair Witch Project, but it’s never annoying, never too chaotic. There are some lovely shots of the beautiful landscape in Norway too.

So, with good acting performances, a mockumentary, shaky-cam feel that isn’t annoying, impeccable comic timing and the most seamless GCI this side of District 9, Troll Hunter is a real gem of it’s kind. The UK DVD has both a subtitled and a dubbed version – I’d suggest you read the subtitles. Dubbing is inevitably crappy.

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