Troll Hunter

Director: André Øvredal 

Notable Cast: Otto Jesperson, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen

Rating: PG-13

Review: Hells yeah that poster is written in Norwegian. First they gave us Nazi Zombies (Dead Snow), and now gigantic trolls. These guys rule.  I was so afraid I would have to wait for the US DVD release to see Troll Hunter, or even worse have to wait for the US remake, but I finally caught this little gem in New York City over the weekend at your typical indie theater.  If you can deal with subtitles and the Norwegian language, get a chance to see this one.  Watching this movie brought me back to the first time I saw Jurassic Park, and its dinosaur epicness. The lifelike nature of the film and creatures was revolutionary for its time, and I viewed Troll Hunter in the same light.  I would go as far as to say Troll Hunter is an adventure on an epic scale, striking me with a giddy excitement the minute our hunter frantically screams out “TROLL!!” for the first time.

Troll Hunter joins the recent wave of found footage films, as a group of college with a camera start to follow a supposed bear poacher Hans (Jesperson) in hopes to uncover his clouded past. After numerous accounts of being blown off by Hans, the crew follows him on one of his many “bear” hunts, hoping to catch him in the act.  But when he darts out of the woods screaming “TROLL!!”, the future media hopefuls become entangled in what they thought were nothing but Norwegian fairy tales.  Turns out Hans is a troll hunter, employed by the government to keep the troll population from mixing with the human population.   But after years of service, Hans is fed up with the current state of his job, and convinces the young journalists to film his every move as a troll hunter.  He hopes that the tape can be leaked to the media and force a restructuring of troll hunting procedures, but he has to keep his team alive in order to do that.  The trolls turn out to be quite nasty buggers…

Troll hand plus the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

As I said, Troll Hunter is one of the truly epic adventures as of late.  The shots were on such a grand scale and the trolls were beautifully created at such monstrous levels, you’re jaw dropped as you could easily imagine yourself in the characters perspective via the first person camera view style.  I couldn’t help but twist my head as branches cracked in the surround sound speakers behind me, expecting to see one of those ugly beasts ripping into the theater.  Norway was such a great location for this film because of the mix of sprawling desolate landscapes combine with these mountainous wooded regions that just looked like trolls should live there.  And the trolls in question were a mixture of creative genius and realistic terror, being a true adaptation of a movie monster.  Troll Hunter wasn’t lost on awful CGI creatures like say, I Am Legend, and delivered fantastically on effects.  That’s where my Jurassic Park/Troll Hunter comparison came into play, as both have these fantastic effects that engulf you in the movie instead of keeping you uninterested.  Think about that first time you saw the gigantic lifelike T-rex, or the viciously horrifying raptors.  Seriously, I had nightmares about those bastards.  Troll Hunter had the same effect on me via the trolls themselves, but not in a horrifying way.  I can’t say these lumpy old creatures scared me, but they were made with the same jaw-dropping impressive manner.  This was a glaring strength of Troll Hunter, and was the make or break point of the film.  Thankfully, for Troll Hunter it was a huge MAKE.

There was a slight bummer from the film because a lot of the humor in the film apparently came from Norwegian culture and norms.  As a foreigner, these moments could be laughed at and enjoyed,  but the full effect could never really be gained.  The characters would always reference back to how “these trolls aren’t like the ones from your childhood stories,” so apparently there is a huge troll culture in Norwegian storytelling that I was missing.  This certainly wasn’t a break point for the film, but there were all these troll-isms the film sort of expected you to understand because it was originally released to Norwegian audiences.  I’m not saying the dialogue lost weight because of this, as the writing did vaguely touch on details for us subtitle reading viewers, but I can imagine how much more entertaining Troll Hunter could have been if I actually had a troll understanding to start off with.  As American kids, we had our “The Three Billy Goat’s Gruff.”  Norwegians had giant trolls.  Jealous.

But, be you American, Norwegian, or any other cultural background for that matter; Troll Hunter still translates into brilliant storytelling that brings unbelievable folklore to life. Banking hard on a tight but simple script mixed with skillfully rendered CGI trolls, Troll Hunter takes you on a wild ride that with a deep imagination, but delivers fully.  This was a fantastic entry especially into the first person camera genre also because a lot of ideas are starting to be re-used already.  Paranormal Activity started the craze, and since then the style has been used mostly to tell ghost stories of the sort.  Cloverfield then dared to bring the camera to the monster movie genre, putting scale into perspective.  This all led to the creation of Troll Hunter, the most creative first person film to date.  The final scene of the film puts everything into perspective, as you’re inside a car driving under a behemoth of a troll.  His feet are slamming down around you and his tail is waving like a pendulum, threatening to topple the car over.  As the camera pans around, being able to catch only a foot at a time because of sheer size, you have no choice but to appreciate the events on-screen out of wonderment.  The beauty of what’s going on is impossible to ignore, and Troll Hunter can pat itself on the back for being yet another successful foreign film about to be Amercianized because of popularity.  For better or worse.

Final Rating: 8 concrete troll statues out of 10

“Why haven’t we turned around yet?”


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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5 Responses to Troll Hunter

  1. Kev10check says:

    A highly under watched non American film. I would have to say the down side, if you are not a Norwegian speaking person, is that even if you are reading the sub titles the Norwegian language did not make for a tolerable dialog throughout the movie. It was a small toleration to pay in order to see the movie however.

    The only other issue I had with this is no one really questioned how religion actually played a factor in this movie. The vibe given off to me is that most people in Norway are Atheism or there is some in country running job about it. Might just be above our heads on the Western Hemisphere.

    I would say this was a surprising 7 out of 10 and just misses getting the 8 for the reasons listed above.

  2. Pingback: Best of 2011 Horror | Cinema Scrutiny

  3. Ashley Sutherland says:

    Troll Hunter was amazing. I had to watch it several times to make sure I did not miss anything. If someone told me that the nasty ass troll that bit me probably had rabies, I would get the hell out of dodge and head straight for that Vets office for my gut shots. So props to the film student who didn’t let go of his mission. As a Christian wo-man, I am going to avoid troll areas, and I appreciate the info the movie provided. I am pretty sure that Allah is God for the Muslims so I fail to see how that worked out for the camera woman who replaced the hot guy that was eaten for being Hommies with Jesus. Norway is gorgeous and I hope they get a handle of their troll problem so I can visit the Land of the Midnight Sun. Modern fairy-tale material spun well. Kudos.

    • Unfortunately, Troll Hunter is getting an American remake, which makes me nervous and angry. Original foreign material always remains better than the American remakes 99 out of 100 times, just trying to cash in on international success. [REC] vs. Quarantine is my biggest qualm, but so many other examples can be inserted. I’ll trade reading subtitles of better material than watching a lesser American version any day. Finger’s crossed Troll Hunter can break the trend!

  4. Ashley Sutherland says:

    NO!!!! Unacceptable! This is why our country is not cranking out excellent films, they wait for a good one from across the pond and they steal it. The Ring, stolen and made crappy. Let The Right One In, stolen and made super crappy. It hurts me to see this happen over and over. I too would rather quick read subtitles over lame storylines. I really hated the remake of Fright Night. I know that was American all the way but really. It’s like an epidemic. There needs to be a revolution!!! Vive!!! And Fingers Crossed!!!

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