Contrary to popular belief, Judge Patrick Naugle does not live under a bridge.
You'll believe it when you see it.
So, you saw Best Worst Movie which in turn made you seek out a Saturday night double feature of Troll and Troll 2. You're mildly fulfilled but you want more. Where do you turn? Who can your trust? Then you hear about this little overseas movie called Troll Hunter, which sounds exactly like the kind of movie you need to sedate your appetite for all things troll. It also sounds like one of my high school prom themes, but that's a different story for another time. Well, here is your chance, because Troll Hunter is now on DVD care of Magnolia Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Trolls do exist. This is what some college kids find out when they attempt to track down and expose a supposed bear poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen). Interviewer Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), sound engineer Johanna (Johanna Mørck), and cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) all think they're going to break the story of a lifetime when they bang on a dirty, dilapidated trailer owned by the mysterious Hans. What they find out is that the grizzled, trailer driving hunter is not a bear poacher but a troll tracker for the TSS (Troll Security Service). Hans job is to eliminate any trolls that wander past their boundaries. Hans reluctantly agrees to let the children to film him as he runs his rounds…which may be the biggest mistake the three naïve students will ever make!
Troll Hunter owes a great debt to The Blair Witch Project, a movie that we really only needed one of, but here is essentially that same format with a different monster. Instead of witches we get trolls. You could say I'm giving away a big spoiler but the name of the movie is Troll Hunter, so there you go. Figuring out if you think Troll Hunter is for you is a fairly simple equation. The nuts and bolts of the movie include a) people, b) hunting, and c) trolls; if that combination of words doesn't pique your interest then you have seriously stumbled across the wrong movie review.
The movie's most interesting aspect is the fact that it takes a Norwegian folktale and spins it on its edge. Troll Hunter tells viewers that trolls do exist but not in the way we think they would. Yes, they look ugly and drool and are altogether terrifying. These trolls, however, are more or less the equivalent of retarded grizzly bears: they eat, procreate and attack. There isn't much else to them. There is no whimsy to their actions or amusing anecdotes to share; they won't try to tell you stories or lull you into a false sense of security with a Grimm fairy tale. Trolls are just huge mammals that get in the way. I liked the idea that the trolls couldn't produce enough vitamin D, and thusly could be killed by a high powered UV ray (which is why they don't venture out in the daytime). Small details like that certainly give the film more depth than most movies of this ilk.
The trolls themselves look excellent, although the format often obscures them (which in turn shines a light on the low budget limitations). Often times the trolls are seen in the night or behind trees, so only around 10% of the movie allows you to really get a good look at the CGI created monstrosities. It's a shame because this idea could make a great standard feature film (and Hollywood agrees—Troll Hunter has already been picked up to be remade here in the United States). The actors here all do what is required of them, usually running, screaming and explaining various tidbits about the trolls. It's a thankless job compared to the enormity and scope of the titular beasts.
The largest stumbling block to my enjoyment of this film was the 'mockumentary' genre it inhabits. As noted, I've already grown tired of the Blair Witch style that permeates so many horror movies, which reached its valley with the sorely disappointing George A. Romero "living dead" sequel Diary of the Dead. After about a half hour of Troll Hunter I actually started to feel slightly ill and realized it was due to all the herky-jerky camera work being employed; it's a gimmick that gets old quite fast. Hopefully this style of filmmaking is finally on the wane.
Otherwise, this has a lot of things going for it and should please the niche audience it was created for. Much like 2011's dark Santa Claus tale Rare Exports, Troll Hunter is retrofitted for a small, discerning group of moviegoers. You know who you are.
A note about my review: I made the decision to watch the film with an English track and without the subtitles for the sole reason that I didn't want to miss any of the visuals on screen. While I'm happy I did this, it did take something away from the overall experience of the film and the performances contained therein.
Troll Hunter is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer works for the film but is hardly going to win awards for clarity. This is a rough, documentary style shoot and that is reflected by low lighting, poor visuals and dark moments. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in Norwegian and has some nice dynamic range to it when the trolls appear. Otherwise, it's a rather front heavy mix. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles as well as a dubbed English 5.1 mix.
Troll Hunter sports a few decent extra features including around four minutes of deleted scenes, an improve/blooper reel, a few extended scenes, a breakdown of the visual effects (with secondary sections for the different kinds of trolls in the movie), a standard behind-the-scenes EPK short, some photo galleries, an HDNet featurette ("A Look at the Troll Hunter"), and some previews for other Magnolia movies.
Troll Hunter is entertaining but problematic, most notably when it comes to the POV handheld camera theme. I'd like to see this movie made in a normal format without feeling like I may throw up due to motion sickness. Magnolia's work on the disc is good and should please all you trollheads out there.
Troll Hunter scores points for originality but looses a good chunk of good will because of the format.
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