Troll Hunter

Trollhunter_artworkI wasn’t sure what to expect from this Norwegian mockumentary so I asked my only Norwegian friend if she had seen it. At first she laughed out loud. Then she was curious how in the world I found Troll Hunter,  since its a fairly obscure film and somewhat difficult to appreciate unless you’ve been raised in Norway.

She gave it a thumbs up, then gave me a little Norwegian troll education. It seems for some they are simply fairy tale creatures, stories about them are passed down generational lines in the same way other cultures might pass down the Tooth Fairy. For others they represent the spirits of the dead and stories surrounding them become allegorical and cautionary tales. In any case, trolls are foul creatures, not particularly useful to anyone and best avoided.

With that in mind I watched the college students investigate and film what appears to be a series of bear killings. They locate and follow Hans, the man they think is killing the bears, only to find out that he is really an agent of the super secret TSS, Troll Security Service. His job is to keep the Norwegian public from ever knowing trolls exist. Put on the spot, he allows the students to tag along on a troll hunt, only if they follow his every instruction. They agree because they want the film footage. But you know that old adage about the things you wish for.

Mockumentaries are tricky, particularly one dealing with a creature that doesn’t exist. On one hand there has to be enough detail to swallow the premise however the detail has to be molded into a comedy.

The writers obviously had a great time creating the Troll mythology. There was ample detail about the different types of trolls, their lifestyles, habits and motivations for doing what they do. You learn about troll biology; trolls can smell Christians and you can disable a troll with UV light. Tandem, they created hilarious detail about the super secret TSS, adding some expected drudgery like filling out STF, Slain Troll Forms,  and introducing the management hierarchy and politics, just to make the agency seem more genuine.

The cast was good at appearing to take situations seriously which actually enhanced the comical aspect. It certainly helped that the actor playing the troll hunter is one of Norway’s better-known comedians.

Filming style is the shaky hand-held variety which you’d expect from someone tromping about the woods looking for trolls – cameras are dropped, flip upside down, cracked and occasionally get covered in troll goo.

CGI of the trolls, which isn’t introduced until the halfway point, is well-done and hilarious. I liked the variety of troll with three heads – only one is functional, the other two are just used to scare other trolls. Tandem, the sound editing is also well-done – low base-heavy snorts, loud angry screams, tree snaps and earth pounding stomps – worked beautifully with the CGI.

If you’re looking for a mockumentary along the lines of what Christopher Guest did in the 90’s, perhaps with a little more action, Troll Hunter is a good watch.

 

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