A film from Norway that has been picking up great word of mouth and positivity in the horror community since it’s release, Trollhunter is already (at the time of writing) earmarked for an American remake and looks as if it will enjoy continued success and respect for a while yet.
The plot revolves around a bunch of students investigating a bear killing. They follow a man they believe to be a poacher and try to interview him but he’s not interested. This, however, doesn’t deter them and so they doggedly keep following the man until they stumble upon a strange truth – the man is in fact a trollhunter, working for the government in a role that sees him monitoring and handling a growing troll problem.
Trollhunter is yet another shaky-cam, “found footage” film but it feels a bit fresher than many of the others that have come along thanks to it’s particularly unusual subject matter.
Writer-director Andre Ovredal does a great job of sketching out characters and details while also providing a number of enjoyable, tense moments throughout. Everything feels quite natural and realistic, despite the variable quality of the special effects on display.
That naturalism is also helped immensely by the great performances of the central cast members. Otto Jespersen is great as the trollhunter, a tired and brave man who has never had the chance to tell his tale. Glenn Erland Tosterud is very likeable as Thomas, the leading student, while Johanna Morck stays convincingly scared for a lot of the movie.
Trolls in their natural habitat, the trollhunter trying to take a blood sample, men who supply dead bears as a way to cover up troll activity, differences between various troll species and rules on how to behave around them, petrified trolls and infuriated government officials – all appear in Trollhunter, as well as one stinky troll fart moment, but it adds up to something just short of greatness.
The biggest problem is that the movie sits uneasily between genres. Horror fans may have embraced the fantastical premise but the movie is certainly NOT scary. It has a few thrills but is not a thriller. The smattering of laughs don’t make it a comedy. I guess it comes closest to simply being a faux-documentary but the subject matter makes that seem like quite a stretch.
The other big problem with the movie is in the character turnarounds and unresolved story strands (one, in particular, that I can’t actually mention here for fear of spoiling anything). From being stubborn and untalkative to suddenly wanting to tell his tale, it’s surprising that the trollhunter would allow the students to tail him in the first place. There’s also one big character development that builds up to a third act revelation and then goes absolutely nowhere, which is more than mildly disappointing.
Trollhunter is a lot of fun and deserves to be seen by a big audience but it’s one of many little movies that you should approach without considering the amount of hype it has received. It’s very good. But it’s not great. Showing At CAMEO 1 as part of EIFF on the evenings of Wed 22nd June and Fri 24th June, tickets are £9.
DIRECTOR: ANDRE ØVREDAL
STARS: OTTO JESPERSEN, GLENN ERLAND TOSTERUD, JOHANNA MORCK, TOMAS ALF LARSEN
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX