Trollhunter; written by Andre Ovredal and Havard Johansen; directed by Andre Ovredal; starring Otto Jespersen (Hans), Glenn Erland Tosterud (Thomas), Johanna Morck (Johanna), Tomas Alf Larsen (Kalle), and Hans Morten Hansen (Finn) (2010): This Norwegian film takes the ‘found footage’ horror movie sub-genre and makes a funny, scary, large-scale adventure out of it. Norway has trolls, as a student film-making camera crew finds out while tailing a man whom they assume to be a bear poacher.
He isn’t. He’s the government’s official trollhunter. And, pissed off at the bureaucracy, the secrecy, and the increasingly endangered status of the trolls he’s hired to contain, Trollhunter Hans decides to take the students along with him as he tries to figure out why a number of trolls have escaped from Norway’s largest troll preserve and are running around eating sheep and German tourists and the occasional car tire. Trolls, as Hans notes, will eat almost any crap — traps are baited with sheep and goats, but also with concrete and charcoal.
Hans is the centrepiece of the movie — the cameraman gets stuck offscreen for the most part, understandably, while the other two students primarily act scared and baffled until they get something of an understanding of the bizarre world of trolls that the Norwegian government has been hiding from its citizens for centuries.
The visual effects are mostly excellent, especially for a low-budget movie. More importantly, they’re ‘fantastic’: the trolls don’t look literalized the way that, say, CGI King Kong in Peter Jackson’s King Kong looks literalized (he’s simply a larger version of an existing gorilla species) rather than fantastic as the original King Kong did, a 40-foot ape clearly NOT of any known species.
The trolls, CGI though they obviously must be, are clearly in the tradition of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation and not the mainstream of CGI, where apparently imagination has been all but outlawed in the past few years. One species even looks like muppets — if Muppets were 12-feet tall, had been sleeping rough for twenty years, and enjoyed eating people. Will there be a sequel? I sorta hope so, though I’d also like to see the filmmakers tackle other fantastic creatures in a modern context. Highly recommended.