Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exfanding Review: TrollHunter

When I asked my brother if he wanted to watch a Norwegian horror film about trolls and with subtitles, his answer was quick and simple. "Yes." And he sat down on the couch immediately. When I asked a buddy if he'd like to join us, his answer was quick and simple, as well. "Um...no. Thanks...though?"

My brother's appreciation of fine independent film and avante garde horror movies--an appreciation he cultivated while in college--was clear in his decision to watch the movie.

That, and there were trolls.




Trolljegeren, or, for you non-Norwegians, TrollHunter, is the story of--you guessed it. The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel, who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage.

Wait. No. Sorry.

Wrong flick.

TrollHunter's similar, though, except that it's about a troll hunter.

Seriously, folks. Why wouldn't you watch this flick? Especially because their distributor is doing that super cool thing wherein the movie is released On Demand at the same time that it's playing in theaters.

Shot in a Cinéma vérité style, this mocking documentary is part Blair Witch, part Spinal Tap, and part Grimm's Fairy Tales. To call it a straight up "horror" film is a bit strong, and more accurately I think, I would classify it more as a thriller.

Sure, there are some pretty frightening moments in the movie, but they are never done for shock value, and, frankly, they're not all that scary. But that's okay, because I was too in awe of what was happening on screen to be afraid of it.

Taking full advantage of the stunning Norwegian landscape, TrollHunter is a fast-moving (literally) story about a group of students looking to do a series of reports on recent and mysterious bear killings.

They follow a group of hunters, all experts in tracking bear, and come to find out that the group is not convinced that the killings are entirely what they seem. The students also learn of a rogue poacher (played by Otto Jespersen, who is just fantastic in the film) who always manages to be one step ahead of the hunters.

Thinking that the true intrigue lies with the alleged poacher, the students decide to follow him. Of course, he's all mystery and gruff, and he tells the kids to beat it. But kids are stupid, so they keep at it, eventually following the hunter deep into the woods, in a restricted government area, at night.

You know how the story goes from here, I'm assuming.

Dude's not a poacher, but an honest-to-goodness troll hunter, and the government has been keeping secret the existence of these fairy tale creatures for many years. And our troll hunter is the last line of defense between rogue trolls wandering off their territory and into human-inhabited spaces.

The film masterfully mixes old troll legends with modern day science and tech, and the result is, frankly, a stunning piece of work.

The CGI of the giant, lumbering trolls is spot-on, and the film makers show you just enough of the creatures to ensure that their scale is appreciated and the threat to the characters and to their world is real.

Like Blair Witch, you know that you're watching something that's "allegedly" real footage, and the notes at the beginning of the film telling us this do seem a bit corny and overused.

But I'm thinking those notes were included as an homage of sorts, and really, the film itself is pretty amazing. It never takes itself too seriously, but at the same time, the mixing of humor, horror, and mythology just...works.

Brilliantly shot, gripping, and with excellent and effective CGI, TrollHunter is definitely worth checking out. If nothing else, it'll have you yelling "TROOOOLLLLLL!" to all of your friends.

And that alone makes it worth seeing.


zharth said...

Independent Norwegian horror film? I'm in!

AJG said...

Well, it's more of a thriller than it is a straight up horror movie, though there are certainly the classic horror elements.

But, it is definitely indy, and very definitely Norwegian.

And quite good.