STARRING: Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten
Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck, Knut Nærum, Robert Stoltenberg, Glenn
2011, 90 Minutes, Directed by:
exists somewhere between The Blair Witch Project and a particularly edgy
Rankin / Bass holiday special . . .
It’s a crafty motion picture
with ingenious visual effects and a healthy sense of humor, but it overstays its
welcome, looking to stretch a thin concept to an unsteady feature length running
time, losing its fresh appeal and sensation of surprise in the process.
Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud)
and Johanna (Johanna Morck) are two college students setting out to investigate
troubling evidence of bear poaching, using their leads to uncover the truth and
make a name for themselves. Their tips and research lead the amateur journalists
to the enigmatic Hans (Otto Jespersen), a gruff man who soon reveals himself to
be a hunter of trolls, working for a covert Norwegian organization established
to control the exploding monster population.
Accepting the students as
observers, Hans and his frightened passengers head deep into the corners of the
country, encountering all types of mountain and land trolls. While thrilled with
their footage, the journey is fraught with threat for the documentarians, with
the trolls not half as diabolical as those who want to keep the hunt secret.
Trollhunter is a member
of the found footage genre, with an unknown organization assembling a movie out
of the hundreds of hours of footage left behind by Thomas and Johanna. The
concept is tuckered out, but director Andre Ovredal has a few tricks planted up
his sleeve that introduces some needed playfulness and unexpected wow to the
"If there’s a film ripe for an American remake, it’s this one!"
Using a herky-jerky documentary
aesthetic, Ovredal summons a mood of reality to backdrop his fantasy elements,
creating his own troll mythology that finds the creatures with a severe distaste
for Christianity (believer blood drives them crazy) and a vulnerability to harsh
UV rays, which Hans deploys to either freeze or explode his prey.
Thankfully, Overedal isn’t
reluctant to show off his creatures, though we see the monsters only through
quaky camerawork or under the cover of night, dialing down the chaotic potential
of the premise, preferring to observe with excitement than lurch ahead with
elaborate escape sequences.
The trolls are creatively
designed and executed, making for a few thrilling encounters that retain a sharp
sense of jeopardy, presenting the documentarians in clearly over their head
while Hans prepares for battle against his old foe.
Ovredal is unable to sustain
the pace of the picture past the hour mark, with a few extended expositional
encounters feeling more like padding than essential storytelling. However, in
the director’s favor is the magnificent Norwegian countryside, with ominous
forests and snow-blanketed mountains forming a beautiful battlefield, gifting
the film an evocative sense of environment to go along with its gritty display
of darkly comic fantasy.
A few flaws keep Trollhunter
from realizing greatness, but it’s a spry enough to slog through a few sluggish
spells, and the eye candy here can’t be beat.
If there’s a film ripe for an
American remake, it’s this one, offering a clever director a chance to generate
some demented fun. Anyone know what Terry Gilliam has been up to lately?
- Brian Orndorf