Norway is a mystery to me. I don’t know much about it and that often keeps me up at night.
I know a few Norwegian people and all I can seem to glean from them is that all Norwegians are either drunk, mad or both. The country’s landscape is diverse and fantastic. It is apparently stupendously expensive. The language is as indecipherable as it is strangely musical. It is also the home of many and varied mighty trolls! And they are on the loose! They are causing trouble! They have wind!
The plot revolves around a group of student film makers who are trying to track down an alleged unlicensed bear poacher. Following this character throughout Norway and witnessing some odd behaviour they press for an interview with him. Always rejecting their offer their quarry continues on his travels until one night when the students catch up with him again in a dense and dark forest. Approaching the location of their subject the students hear some strange noises and see odd flashing lights, suddenly the supposed bear hunter launches himself through the forest to the students revealing his true prey – TROLLS!
Following a harrowing escape the TrollHunter finally acquiesces to the students requests to make a film about his adventures. And so begins our tale of trolls, government cover-ups and tiresome bureaucracy.
Filmed in a documentary style I was initially a little wary. From the snot snivelling hag in the Blair Witch Project to the stomach churning motion sickness inducing Cloverfield I can’t recall seeing one film that has utilised this method and impressed me. Fortunately TrollHunter is a little more stand-offish in its use of the hand held camera. The presentation is more in-between the chaos of the hand-held footage and Hollywood professional camera footage, taking the opportunity to keep the camera steady as often as possible.
There are some great comedy touches throughout the film, from the struggling government official to the dodgy Polish bear hunters and the Troll Hunters methods for catching trolls, there is always a comedic element around every corner. Toilet humour is not neglected, as it is clearly the most intellectual and sophisticated form of humour, so expect a good, overblown, ridiculous and triumphant troll fart in there too.
All of the big set-pieces are obviously the encounters with the trolls, each one bigger and more impressive than the last. We start with the three headed Tosserlad, move on to the fearsome, goat eating Ringlefinch, have a nasty encounter with a tribe of Mountain Kings and finally face off against a phenomenal Jotnar. It’s clear that a great deal of care and attention has gone into creating the trolls and the designs all hark back to the Nordic folklore. So expect to see phallic noses, warty protuberances, lumbering gates and monumental limbs.
Considering the relatively low budget, the trolls are never less than impressive and believable in their environment. Yes, some of them look daft, but it’s good to know that they are more akin to the drawings and tales of folklore rather than being re-designed to look more conventional.
The acting performances are good; Otto Jespersen (a well known Norwegian comedian) delivers a perfectly dry performance of the tired and underappreciated Troll Hunter. From describing the need to cake themselves in stinking troll scum to describing the exhaustive forms necessary after slaying a troll, he never fails to make his fantastical job seem utterly mundane and dull. Far from sapping the energy out of the film, this only serves to amuse and make the trolls all that more fantastic.
TrollHunter impressed me. The trolls were ugly, huge and I imagine terrifically odious, the performances were believable and in Otto Jespersen, humorous and understated. While I haven’t really learnt anything about Norway I have learnt something about a bunch of creatures that don’t even exist. Or do they!? Yikes!
Oh and some tiresome American studio is already planning on sucking all the life out of this with a remake. Brilliant. Can’t wait. Yawn.