Schlock Shelf – The Troll Hunter
The Troll Hunter—In this Norwegian homage (I think) to The Blair Witch Project, a set of video recordings shows up at a film studio anonymously. It shows footage from an amateur film crew from a college in Norway following Hans, a Norwegian troll hunter. Like Blair Witch, it is all handheld shots, with long sequences of running, screaming, and mysterious sounds. However, this film has TROLLS instead of a “witch.”
Knowing full well that this film was all handheld, I got smart and took Dramamine before going to the theater—yes, I’m dead serious. Normally, I’d just close my eyes for 95% of the film like I did with The Wrestler, but this film has subtitles that I’d have to read to understand the storyline. We also ended up getting the second to the front row of the theater, which doesn’t help the motion-sickness I’m afflicted with.
Norway has been seeing a lot of bear attacks recently. There’s a guy in a Range Rover that always seems to be around whenever these bear attacks show up. The national bear hunters (yes, the bear population in Norway is regulated by the government) don’t know who he is, so they are all suspicious of him, especially since he keeps to himself and only goes out at night. They think he’s a poacher. There is a college news reporter, a cameraman, and an audio girl that interview the hunters and try to get an interview with the mysterious lone hunter. The lone hunter refuses, so the film crew follows him. A LONG way.
The crew finds the hunter (Hans) and follow him into the woods one night. They hear all kinds of strange sounds and see flashing lights. Then, the hunter bursts out of the woods right in front of them and yells, “TROLL!!!!” The crew and hunter have a discussion about whether trolls are real, and the fact that the crew’s car is flattened and mangled seems to lend some heavy weight to the “Fact” side of the argument.
In effect, the government has hired Hans to keep an eye on the troll population, who have been in Norway since the dawn of time. If the trolls venture out of their assigned region, the Troll Hunter is called to destroy the troll. UV light makes them either turn to stone or explode (depending on the age of the troll). The whole thing is covered up by blaming it on bears, and, in some cases, planting evidence, which the DNR representative has to explain away in public statement. All sorts of fairy tales and legends are proven and disproven for the film crew as they follow the Troll Hunter from region to region. Some trolls appear to be 10 feet tall, and some are as large as mountains.
The suspense in the movie is pretty solid. The film does a great job of using the lighting and sounds to its advantage. The CGI in the film leaves a lot to be desired, but probably works better since the cameras are all handheld (probably a nightmare to work with in combining digital and handheld footage—so kudos to the editors for that part). The actors in the film are rumored to be popular Norwegian comedians, so there’s a bit of fun in the movie. Nothing slapstick or outright comical, but there are parts where glances at the college kids’ cameras are caught and lend a lighter atmosphere of this pretty dark film. Despite the super nausea-inducing camera work (including REALLY long scenes of running and simple lack of action) and the non-professional CGI trolls thrown in, this movie was quite good. I don’t think I’d rave about it, but I would recommend it to most people. There isn’t a lot of gore, but the suspense is high, even when reading text from the screen and trying to follow the action in your peripheral vision so you don’t throw up.
And I will warn you in advance, a lot of the trailers contain a serious amount of spoilers, so keep that in mind. The trailer here is the least spoiler-y of them…
(3 out of 5 fus)