FrightFest 2011: ‘Trollhunter’ – A breathe of fresh air for the Found Footage genre

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Trollhunter

Directed by Andre Ovredal

Starring Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck,

Norway, 2010 

Saturday morning at FRIGHTFEST kicked off with The Troll Hunter. A film many of us had hoped to turn up at the festival the year prior (along with Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil) but that somehow ended up emerging this year instead, when most of us (myself included) had already had the joy of seeing it a few months prior.

Essentially this is The Troll Hunter Project – a classy and humorous hybrid of the found-footage genre and the, well, actually I’m not sure if there’s a genre for troll movies, but perhaps there should be.

It has (like all found-footage movies) a radiantly simple premise that sees three student news reporters / film-makers investigating an infamous illegal bearskin poacher –  who turns out to be Norway’s unsung ‘hero’; their last living troll hunter. Unlike many films in this genre, The Troll Hunter had a production far more akin to a standard film with a script, costumes, props, some excellent visual FX and a narrative closer to an 80’s adventure film than The Blair Witch Project.

Over-all it’s a rip-roaring success that is at times intense and affecting while also being hilarious and loveable. The characters are all well fleshed out with likeable and realistic tendencies and the troll hunter himself is excellently downplayed. His subtle expressions echoing the mundanity of the job for him, which includes wry paperwork to fill out and syringes the size of bicycles. The trolls are fairly varied and consistently excellently animated, an admirable feat considering not on the proposed ‘reality’  of the faux-documentary format but also their extensive screen time. These creatures so not shy from the camera that’s for sure and the finale is a gorgeously shot denouement of that.

The only real problem with the film isn’t really a problem at all, but rather an interesting matter of perspective and how that affects the end result. Coming from the UK – I have had little interaction with any troll myths in my childhood and so the film played out purely as a comedy for me with a few affective adventure moments. But after reading interviews with the director and talking to friends who have come from Norway – it becomes apparent that troll’s are a huge part of their culture and so whilst the film is undoubtedly comedic; the trolls themselves are far more menacing and horror-tinged for those who were brought up with them.

This also affects many of the ‘easter eggs’ in the film that see them utilizing natural Norwegian environments and phenomenon’s to add gravitas to the troll’s reality. I loved this film but can’t help but feel that it’s a somewhat different movie for those who have grown up in Norway and those who are abroad.

The narrative rotates a little too much and there comes a point when the ‘wow’ factor has worn off a little and you begin to wonder where it’s all heading, but ultimately this is a rare treat and a breathe of fresh air for a rapidly over-crowded and staling sub-genre. Highly recommended.

There is of course a USA remake already in the works for 2014 but the original is out now in cinemas in the UK.

– Al white

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