Friday, 27 July 2012

filmbore pick of the week - Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren)

Director: André Øvredal
Screenplay: André Øvredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck
Year: 2010
Language: Norwegian
UK rental release: January 2012

Three college film students follow the trail of baffling bear killings, suspected by local, licenced hunters to be the work of a poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen). As it turns out he is, in fact, a government employee tasked to contain and sometimes hunt down native trolls across multiple regions of Norway...Indiana-Jones-cum-civil servant, if you will.  

Taking inspiration from Norwegian folklore, Troll Hunter is a modern take on the country's mythologies of bridge and cave dwelling beasts. A mockumentary delivered in the found-footage format, it's naturally presented in its vérité style with zoom changes, camera set-ups, rapid cuts, even leaving room for a dabble with night vision in parts. This gives the film a very natural feel, which is a suitable contrast to the fantastical theme throughout.

Otto Jespersen, a local Norwegian TV star, owns the film from start to finish. Happy to allow the students to film his activities in his repulsion for the bureaucratic methods of his employers, as Hans he is a quiet, mysterious presence. Nevertheless, he is proud and willing to impress his new friends with his expertise on trolls: what they eat, their different breeds, their natural behaviours, even setting up unusual traps.'s also from him that most of the story's comedy is derived. Only briefly flirted with, there are small moments of real natural humour, be it through mishaps of the hunt or tales of previous encounters. They give the film a light vibe, reminding you that even though this isn't a movie for kids it's not taking itself too seriously either.

But the most fun comes from the trailing of the monsters themselves. Each troll is brilliantly realised in decent CGI, with great attention to detail in the muscle architecture and earthy blemishes. And, I'm very pleased that they've retained a cartoonish tint to the facial composition of each creature, giving personality to each species we meet. There's even variety in each of the breed's voices thanks to some excellent sound design, noticed as their furious cries are manifested through great use of surround sound.

The film's wonders are all put to play in to the finale of the piece when we are confronted with the behemoth, the Jontar troll. These final scenes are fantastic, and brilliantly pieced together with great pace. You can see where their best efforts have gone, and these ending moments are worth the wait (especially as they're followed by a genius but brief re-edit of a real speech from Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg).        

It's always fun to take a fairy tale and render it into reality, but Troll Hunter does this with real style. This is a very approachable piece of world cinema that can be enjoyed by anybody. It's effortless at building a great bridge between the fjords of Norway and other western countries... just keep an eye on what's lurking underneath it!

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