I watched Troll Hunter on Blu-ray last night (just came out this week), which is a movie I really wanted to see back when it was on the festival circuit, but it never ended up making it to regular theaters. Probably because it’s a Norwegian movie about trolls.
It starts off on a bad note, using the “found footage” gimmick of Blair Witch, Cloverfield, etc. I’m not a huge fan of this genre. It seems like a lazy way to tell the story. And if it’s found footage you basically know from the first “Look what the government found!” title card that all of the characters are going to die. In basically every case. The conflicting part of Troll Hunters take on the found footage way of shooting is that when it works, it’s really awesome. But when it doesn’t, it’s really not that exciting. Mainly, the scenes with the trolls are pretty fantastic in the ways they’re shot. But all the filler/exposition in between could have been cut down drastically and would have benefited from traditional storytelling.
The gist of the story is that three college students go into the forest to shoot a documentary (remind you of a certain 1999 film?), and end up following a guy who is a government employed “troll hunter”. He’s sick of his job and he lets them film him hunting trolls, even though the government is trying to keep it quiet. Good concept, but the government stuff in between the troll action scenes got tiresome to me after a while. I was definitely fidgeting on my couch at times.
But I have to admit, the 4 or 5 troll scenes are pretty great. They have good tension, some moments of neat action, and the special effects aren’t bad for an independent film from Norway. Well, actually the quality of the trolls go from worst to best, there were definitely varying degrees of how well the trolls looked. The first troll was actually not that great, and got me nervous that this was going to be some SyFy channel made-for-TV level of crap, but I stuck with it. And I’m happy I did, because the last troll was gorgeously animated. In fact, the last troll sequence was phenomenal. Very exciting. In my opinion, it was worth sitting through some of the more boring scenes just to get to the final action sequence. Troll Hunter probably put most, if not all of its $3.5 million budget into the special effects, because the rest of the movie looks like it was made for $50,000.
The characters are slightly unlikable. They are scared out of their minds during each of the troll scenes, but then seem unphased immediately afterwords. Even when one of the characters dies, they get over it relatively quickly. The whole movie sort of becomes repetitive in the plot, when around the halfway point, they basically lay everything you need to know out there, and it just becomes these kids aimlessly following the troll hunter on his job. Should have been more trolls, less talking. The ending also kind of angered me. Not the final troll scene, but like the 3 minutes after it.
Tightening the whole thing up would have helped, if eliminate some of the lulls between the trolls. But I can see this being a movie remade by Hollywood in like 4 years. Everyone knows if you make a foreign language cult smash, eventually Hollywood will get their hands on it, make it in English, put Taylor Lautner in it, etc.
For the price it cost to make, it’s a pretty great effort, if somewhat flawed. But what isn’t, nowadays?
7 out of 10
Here’s the trailer, but in my opinion, it gives away a lot. A LOT. But if you need to see the trolls in action in order to get motivated to potentially watch it, this is probably the best place to see that. But again, this trailer seems oddly filled with mini-spoilers.