Trolls have traditionally been somewhat neglected in film – the odd cameo in 'Harry Potter' and 'Lord Of the Rings' aside – but perhaps 'Troll Hunter' heralds the dawn of a new cinematic age, a post-'Twilight' era of enlightenment? I live in hope. It is, however, certainly much more than a typical monster movie.
'Troll Hunter' toys with genre, flitting from mockumentary to unabashed CGI fantasy and back again, with a dizzying sense of fun. The action revolves around a group of students, who are filming a documentary about a supposed bear poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen).
In the true spirit of journalism, they stalk the delightfully misanthropic Hans half-way across Norway, gamely following him into the forest at night, where it emerges that he is tracking creatures far larger than bears. Begrudgingly, Hans allows the students to join him on his travels and film him as he gets on with the thankless task of troll hunting.
Many comparisons have been made between 'Troll Hunter' and 'The Blair Witch Project', largely owing to their small budgets and use of handheld camera and night vision footage. However, although 'Troll Hunter' does borrow heavily from the ‘shoestring horror’ format – there are plenty of blurry shots of forest, set to a soundtrack of screaming – this doesn’t define the film.
'Troll Hunter' satirises the inane bureaucracy of modern life and government, with some scenes that wouldn’t seem out of place on a TV show like 'The Office'. The cast are all strikingly natural, and Otto Jespersen delivers a fantastic performance as Hans – the scarred, long-suffering, deadpan hero. The trolls themselves are authentically grotesque, rendered faithfully from Scandinavian folklore.
Epic Norwegian scenery provides a rich backdrop for the action, and although the CGI special effects aren’t up to ‘Hollywood’ standard, somehow this actually adds to the film’s charm. Director André Øvredal strikes an ingenious balance between realism, enchanting Norwegian mythology and tongue-in-cheek humour, creating a finished product that’s funny, scary and quite bizarre.
'Troll Hunter' is out in UK cinemas now. Share your thoughts if you've had a chance to "catch it".