‘Trollhunter’ (2010) review: Seeing is believing

Norwegian comedian Otto Jespersen stars as hunter “Hans” in “Trollhunter.” Credit: Filmkameratene A/S

“Trollhunter” movie poster

Presented in “found footage” format, director André Øvredal‘s “Trollhunter” is a clever mockumentary about three Norwegian film students (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, and Tomas Alf Larsen) searching for the truth behind a series of illegal bear killings.

The subject of the trio’s investigative field trip, a mysterious loner named Hans (played by controversial Norwegian comedian Otto Jespersen), initially rebuffs the students’ every attempt at an on-camera interview. But later when the kids stumble directly into the path of his real prey, the hunter reveals that he works for a secret government agency as a Troll hunter.

Yes, indeed, smelly, disagreeable, havoc-wreaking trolls do exist, at least in this darkly amusing comedy, where everybody except the screenwriters plays it absolutely straight, and to surprisingly marvelous effect.

The world-weary Hans, tired of his grueling, inhumane job and the government’s cover-up of his activities, allows the incredulous students to join him on hazardous nocturnal pursuits, where they soon discover exactly how hazardous his work really is.

Scenes filmed in near darkness and a reliance on jerky camera movements inherent in handheld filming only enhance the suspense of these nighttime hunts, and provide a real sense of terror once things start to go horribly wrong.

The best part of “Trollhunter” is when the mythic trolls are finally exposed — their appearance most certainly does not disappoint! Despite a less than stellar non-Hollywood budget, the film’s amazingly realistic CGI monsters are incredibly detailed, impressively large and far more terrifying than might be imagined. You can almost smell the much discussed troll stench permeating the air whenever they are on screen.

Three Norwegian film students find themselves on a life-changing adventure when they follow the “Trollhunter.” Credit: Filmkameratene A/S

The trolls’ angry roars reverberate in the still of the Norwegian woods and add a wonderful layer of reality to this darkly amusing film. The bleakly beautiful landscape only highlights the isolation of the troll hunter’s job, and the difficulty in finding help when it is needed. References to traditional Scandinavian troll folklore abound but never really overwhelm the plot or the rock solid performances by the cast.

In a 2011 interview with Movie Moxie, director André Øvredal said, “Basically we all have funny parts of our lives and scary & emotional parts. So as long as the audience is in on the ride of reality, they don’t consider it a comedy. We don’t consider it a comedy or an anything, as long as you consider it a documentary than everything falls into place. You play the comedy deadpan, it’s real. You’d never play up the comedy, they have horrific experiences and the audience is in on that.”

“Trollhunter” is rated PG-13 for “some sequences of creature terror,” but audiences who sit through the end credits will surely be pleased to learn that “No trolls were harmed during the making of this movie.”

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One Response to ‘Trollhunter’ (2010) review: Seeing is believing

  1. This was on my list for the next feature for family scary movie night so I was delighted to see this review. Sounds like something our youngest son would love (and me). Thanks for the inside scoop.

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