Out of all of the films made to look like found films in this week’s column, TROLLHUNTER is the one that is the most all-around fun. Though the concept is pretty out there–a group of students are trying to investigate a poacher and stumble onto a secret organization whose purpose is to control and dispose of trolls–everything is played straight. And that’s where the beauty of TROLLHUNTER lies.
Norwegian director/writer Andre Ovredal skates the fine line between satire and horror like a pro. Ovredal knows there are a lot of found footage films out there and smartly takes us through the motions seen in most of them. But while the other films are going out of their way to make their film realistic, Ovredal sets his filmed horror in the gorgeous Norwegian hills and valleys which look like something out of a fantasy film. The expansive forests and gigantic mountains look like they house all kinds of wondrous creatures and horrific mysteries. But in Ovredal’s film, those rocky hillsides and grassy canyons do.
Most of the charm that TROLLHUNTER exudes comes from the gruff troll hunter himself, Trolljegeren, played by straight-faced Otto Jesperson. Trolljegeren is all business, living a life of solitude, playing by his own set of rules that could mean life or death. Trolljegeren’s world is fascinating, from his extensive knowledge of troll culture and physiology to his RV which has an interior lined with troll tails to throw off his scent. The film Trolljegeren is in is deadly serious, which of course to the student filmmakers and us as viewers, is hilarious. His staunch delivery of lines concerning how to survive a troll attach and insane methods of troll hunting are what makes this film a true gem.
What I love about this film is that it plays like the best of satires, embracing all of the tropes of the found footage genre and making an original film despite of it. Much more like THIS IS SPINAL TAP and maybe a bit like one of my favorite found footage films, INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, TROLLHUNTER never makes fun of the subject matter. Instead, it places its straight-faced lead into one insane scenario after another with a wide-eyed and disbelieving camera crew on his tail.
Though all of the films I have covered in this column are worth seeking out, TROLLHUNTER is unique in that it points out how silly the genre is while adding to it. Relatively bloodless, TROLLHUNTER is one of those films I would have loved to see as a kid; full of giant monsters, brave hunters, cool weapons, and even cooler scenes mixing all three. The effects are absolutely phenomenal. One would think this was a multi-million dollar film, but I imagine it cost a fraction of that. TROLLHUNTER proves that with some imagination and a whole lot of talent behind the camera, you don’t have to break the bank, just think outside the norm. Though I saw TROLLHUNTER on the small screen, I encourage folks to see this one in theaters. If and when it comes to my town, I am going to be first in line to see these giant monsters come to larger than life. I give this film my highest recommendation. Absolutely hilarious throughout (even right up to the last beat of the film) and utterly exciting in every way, there aren’t many films like TROLLHUNTER out there. Seek it out!