2011 True/False Film Festival: ‘Troll Hunter’

Troll Hunter

Written and directed by André Øvredal

Norway, 2010

Troll Hunter is a slyly subversive little horror comedy from Norway that is destined to find a cult following on DVD.  Unlike the rest of the films showing here at True/False, this is not a documentary but rather another entry in the “found-footage genre.”  Andre Øvredal gives us a fresh take on the genre by opting to go with humor over real scares.  There is nothing genuinely scary about this film – but its pronounced lack of scares allows Øvredal to get at some really biting social and political satire that wouldn’t have been possible had the film been a straight-up horror film.

Like most found-footage films, the plot centers on film students trying to make a documentary and footage that has resulted from it.  The three film students include the over-enthusiastic nerd Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), the boom-mic operator Johanna (Johanna Morck) and the rarely seen cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen).  They set out to follow a mysterious poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen), whose prey turns out to be – of course – trolls.

The film’s biggest strength is the character of Hans, played wonderfully by Jespersen.  Hans seems like a character that came straight out of a Werner Herzog documentary, wonderfully strange and eccentric.  Jespersen somehow manages to deliver his lines about the nature of trolls with a completely straight face, enhancing the film’s comic edge.

Øvredal manages to craft a clever satire of authority and propaganda that is not only relevant to Norway but also to America.  The film does lose a lot of steam as it enters its finale because it becomes what it had avoided being in the first place, a special effects bonanza of people running from trolls.  Yes, the troll effects are pretty incredible for the budget that they had, but the film’s 103-minute runtime could have lost at least twenty minutes.

Still, for what it is, Troll Hunter is a pretty effective film and is better than it has any right to be.

– Joshua Youngerman

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