Trollhunter (Trolljegeren) Looking For Bigfoot, And Finding Even Bigger Fears Otto Jespersen, Johanna Mørck and Tomas Alf Larsen (background) in André Øvredal's "Trollhunter".
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
June 17, 2011
"Trollhunter", a delightful, funny parody of B-movie sci-fi
creature thrillers from the 1950s, comes direct from Norway, courtesy of
writer-director André Øvredal. Three students from Volda College don't believe their
government, which insists that "there's nothing to see here" where the existence
of trolls is concerned. Any damage being done to bears in the Norwegian
woods and forests is being done by other extra-hungry bears, the government
Unconvinced, the skeptical students bring their video equipment into the woods
in an attempt to record troll activity on tape. A veteran hunter of these
oversized creatures (Otto Jespersen) initially rebuffs the trio, then warms to
them, bringing them on his nighttime haunts.
Shot with a handheld camera in documentary style like
Activity" and this new film's closest cousin "The Blair Witch
Project", "Trollhunter" makes clear that its video footage is incomplete and the
whereabouts of certain people are unknown.
Mr. Øvredal doesn't use music score to flavor his film, just one or two pieces
of source music to approximate a realism that makes "Trollhunter" immensely
appealing. I wasn't tense watching "Trollhunter", and spent much of the
time laughing with it, not at it, as the actors, all of whom are smart, zealous
and enthusiastic, brought a casual if not dispassionate approach to the story,
which is more or less a whodunnit for Super Duper Big Foot.
"Trollhunter" stays within itself as a comedy-drama, never trying to do more
than it has to, and the results are great. Engaging, riveting and pleasing
to watch, "Trollhunter" is wonderfully unselfconscious, not taking itself at all
seriously. There are knowing winks at 1950s and 60s Japanese monster films
like "Godzilla", as well as playful jabs at other fellow European countries.
More subtle punches are thrown at some character types from horror films,
spoofed here with a reckless abandon.
This film goes places you don't expect it to, and at other times leads you to
where you know it should or will. You needn't be a fan of the horror or
creature genre to enjoy and appreciate "Trollhunter". The film isn't at
all graphic or violent, although there are one or two powerful action sequences
that are well-staged and look ferocious and real.
There are light special effects but the stars of this film are its actors,
especially Mr. Jespersen and Tomas Alf Larsen, who appears to be enjoying every
moment of this film even when he's the butt of some of its in-jokes. Mr.
Jespersen, terrific here, brings a "most interesting man in the world" approach
to his character, a weary, jaded type who has seen it all before when it comes
to these oversized creatures. All Mr. Jespersen needs is the alcohol from
that famous television commercial to pitch his trollhunting services.
Mr. Øvredal revels in the thrill of the hunt, and the cerebral. No brawn
need apply. The film is punctuated by jokes, awkward pauses and a group of
eager actors who eat up all of the opportunities they can. The director
also pokes fun at some of the agencies hired to manage Norway's "troll problem".
"Trollhunter", a metaphor for many things it seems, lobs satirical bombs at
certain religious denominations.
Offhanded, joyous and smart, "Trollhunter" is a refreshing departure from
today's horror-creature films, and it doesn't repel you. Its consistent
fun, droll humor and understatement make it a fine experience, perhaps even a
cult classic, in years to come.
With: Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Urmila Berg-Domaas, Hans Morten
"Trollhunter" (Trolljegeren) is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America
for some sequences of creature terror.
The film is in the Norwegian (Norsk) language with English subtitles. The
film's running time is one hour and 30 minutes.
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