Friday, 17 August 2012

Troll Hunter

"Troll Hunter" (2010, André Øvredal, Filmkameratene A/S, Film Fund FUZZ) is a Norwegian fantasy film with some horror elements. It is the story of some, now "missing", University students who are filming for a project. The film is comprised of their film footage.

They believe that they are on the trail of a bear poacher who is killing rampaging bears all over Norway. What they soon find is that they are on the trail of the one and only Troll Hunter who is hunting rampaging trolls all over Norway, killing them and then planting bear carcasses so as not to let the general public know that trolls exist.

I've been to Norway before. It's beautiful, I highly recommend a visit. I went up in a funicular to the Troll visitor centre. Trolls are a native story to the region, and are present in many Norwegian folk tales. At the visitor centre there is a giant stone Troll, fabled to be the remains of a real creature, who was caught in sunlight.

In this film only the eldest trolls will turn to stone when in sunlight....or faced with UV tanning lights, apparently. The younger ones explode! This leads to a lot of exploding troll scenes, which I'm appreciative of!

The film brings in a level of realism which, if you allow yourself to be sucked into it, can keep you in a state of suspended acceptance. They explain why trolls react and die in sunlight/UV light, they explain troll habits, they describe and show many race of troll, and advise on troll protection. They mark out territories and describe behaviour...

The teen film crew are made up of Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), who is the group leader and presenter of the video, Johanna (Johanna Mørck) who is the sound girl and wears some very snazzy hats and camera man Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), and then later camera woman Malica (Urmila Berg-Domaas).

The film is completely displayed as 'found footage', but manages to be watchable and clear, unlike 'The Blair Witch Project'. The characters are very realistic and the banter between them is reminiscent of most Uni project groups I've worked in as a Design student.

They begin by interviewing legal bear hunters, who are up in arms about the dead bears, accusing the mysterious man, Hans (Otto Jespersen, who is a Norwegian comedian, I believe), of poaching. Then the team decide to begin following Hans and his grubby caravan full of smelly oddities. At first he is dismissive, angry and avoids the teens, but he eventually allows them to film him and join him on his hunt.

Hans explains that he is miserable, sick of his job and disenchanted with the whole thing. He has been asked to kill all trolls, no longer just ones which are out of control or out of their designated territory.

The film is creative and funny with some tense moments, improved beyond a doubt by the filming technique.

Trolls can smell Christianity, apparently. I muse that as Norway is a predominantly Christian country, the trolls were hunted mainly by Christians, maybe? And as a defense, have learned to smell them out. My friend and I had just begun discussing whether it was strictly Christianity, or a general belief in God (i.e., would a Muslim or Jewish person also be at risk from Troll attack) when the film handed us the answer! Oh ironic timing :) However, maybe trolls were just simply meant to be evil and so could smell 'good'? I'm not sure. In this version, the trolls just appear to be unusual but natural creatures, of no high level thoughts whatsoever.

"Troll Hunter" is both lighthearted, and a comment on wildlife conservation. The 'Troll Security Service' or TSS, is the secret department in charge of keeping trolls under control.

The action is good, there is little gore (except for explosive trolls) and most of the scary bits are strictly tension. The special effects are good, too. The trolls do look like realistic creatures, and blend into the landscape nicely. And they all have the distinctive comically large noses seen in old fairy tale books.

We watched "Troll Hunter" in Norwegian with subtitles, if you're a bit unadventurous I suppose it wouldn't take much away watching it dubbed over, but I like to see it in its native tongue.

Some twists are present in the plot, but my favourite one had you expecting a 'zombie' style bite-related disaster!

Not technically a horror, but jumpy when it needs to be and very awesome all round.

[Picture: Filmkameratene A/S]