Troll Hunter

Delivers pretty much what you'd expect, as long as you don't expect too much.

Released in 2010, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 18 Aug 2011 by Scott Morris
Troll Hunter image

For Troll Hunter, or Trolljegeren, we join a group of Norwegian students initially going on a trip to investigate sightings of a bear and possible illegal hunting of said bear. While heading out into the remote parts of their country, they uncover a terrifying secret, kept from the population by the government.

Norway, it transpires, is in fact home to many hulking great trolls, normally content to stomp around their territories far away from humanity. On occasion they get to close for comfort and the surly, near-stereotypical gamekeeper / Troll Security Service operative Hans (Otto Jespersen) must take care of the problem. And by "take care of", we mean "kill", just for clarity.

In a gambit hardly redolent of innovation, it's presented as "found footage", and I find the opening text's repeated, strident declarations of authenticity to be inordinately annoying. This is a film about trolls. Of course it isn't fucking real, do you think I'm an idiot or something? There's a thin line between willing suspense of disbelief and insulting your audience, and this film stomps right over that line, then sets up a tent on the other side of it.

At the risk of copping out completely, Troll Hunter just is what it is. I didn't expect much from it and it delivered exactly that. The effects work is good considering the movies' budget, but not actually good in real terms - but I've seen worse.

Jespersen proves to be the film's main hope of tying the film together, as it settles into its mockumentary groove following Hans' day to day life. He's almost up to the task, and the transition from initial hostility to somewhat reluctant narrator of events at least gives us some reason to buy into the character's life. It's not quite enough, however, especially when saddled with the group of students who range between forgettably bland and quite annoying.

While no-one's ever going to accuse Troll Hunter of being a character piece, but all these troll encounter shenanigans just aren't all that interesting a concept, for this scrivener at least. I'm assuming that there's more trolls knocking around in the stories of your average Norwegian's formative years, which might pre-dispose you more kindly to watching a few different types of troll bop around in night-vision CG before returning for another half hour of very little happening to characters of very little interest to us.

That said, it's pitched (and titled) squarely as a film about a troll hunter, and on that basis I can't really complain all that much about it. I didn't like it very much, but I don't find it offensively dire like much of the Hollywood horror output that I've simply stopped watching. In the interests of remaining positive, it's really not my sort of thing, but if it does sound like your sort of thing, it's an adequate example. There's no point unleashing the Vitriol Cannon on a film called Troll Hunter for being a daft film about trolls, any more than there's a point hating Twilight for being a dull film about a shiny vampire's love life. Its colours are obvious, and nailed firmly to its mast for all to see from a good distance. I leave it to you to decide whether to salute them or not.

Andre Ovredal
Cast list:
Otto Jespersen (Hans)
Hans Morten Hansen (Finn)