Trollhunter by Andre Ovredal

Trollhunter ★★★★☆
Directed by Andre Ovredal
2010 (June 2011 US) / 90 Minutes

The Setup: A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter. (from IMDB)

Imagine if you will: three college students set out one weekend with some camera equipment and a dream; they want to want to track down, follow, and question a suspected bear poacher named Hans to create an expose for a class project.

Imagine they do find him, they do follow him, and they do try to question him. For all their troubles he does nothing more than tell them to get lost. Undaunted, they persist. They follow him to his trailer, they follow him as he speeds down the highway, they follow him onto a ferry crossing a river, and they follow him in the dead of night into an area that’s labeled as a blasting zone.

Imagine that while tracking him on foot in the darkness of the night he comes barreling at them at top speed screaming one word: “TROLL!” All of the sudden what appeared to be a simple class project for these three students has turned into something much more mysterious and far more dangerous then they could have ever imagined. They’re not following a bear poacher after all. They’re tailing a troll hunter.

If the above setup sounds good to you then you’re in for one heck of a fun time. This Norwegian film presents itself as a cross between The Blair With Project (shaky ‘amateur’ camera footage is recovered under mysterious circumstances) meets Cloverfield (cool CGI monsters) with mostly positive results.

First the good: the movie mostly sticks to the classic troll folklore with a few minor variations. The trolls hate sunlight (an actual medical explanation is given), they come in many different flavors and sizes (three heads are better than one), and they are pretty much dumb as a box of hammers (seriously, try conversing with a box of hammers and then report back to me.)

The daylight shots of the Norwegian countryside are breathtaking and the night time CGI imagery of the trolls is fabulous. As a matter of fact, when things are happening the movie is all around great. It’s the in-between moments that drag things down and sadly there’s far too many of them.

Now the bad: there’s simply too many stretches of time where the college students are driving or running or doing other meaningless repetitive things that aren’t advancing the plot. Some of it is funny, but the bulk of it isn’t. More trolls and less antics would have made the movie much more enjoyable, because let’s face it, the people rushing to fill the seats to see this one aren’t looking for character development. They’re thinking, “Give us more than three students! Sacrifice a whole classroom to the beasts!”

Obviously this wasn’t a big Hollywood production so I’m sure the creators had a tight, slim budget to work with. They should be credited for working with what they had to create something that looks and feels so much larger than life. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Trollhunter gets an A+ for following in the footsteps of other genre movies that paved the way (Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, La Casa Muda), but it does little in the way of adding anything new to what feels like a played out concept at this point.

Fun: yes. Original: no. No one ever said you had to be original to be good though. Trollhunter is fun experience that sure to please even the most die-hard action/adventure fan, even if they absolutely loathe having to read subtitles.


About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.