Monday, August 11, 2014

Troll Hunter (2010)

Director: André Øvredal                                  Writer: André Øvredal
Music Supervisor: Henrik Hawor                      Cinematography: Hallvard Bræin
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck and Tomas Alf Larsen

This Norwegian horror film is actually more humorous than it is horrifying. Taking the same idea as The Blair Witch Project and almost satirizing it, Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) takes the viewer on the search for the imaginary fairy tale villains of old. The film was developed by the same producers who had made the historical World War Two drama Max Manus and, in going for a sense of verisimilitude, kept the production a secret in order to create a word of mouth buzz before the film was released. In fact, before its release American companies had already expressed interest in remaking the film with an English-speaking cast. Much of the scenery in the film is utterly captivating, the shots of the fjords and the woods, and the frozen tundra all give the viewer a wonderful sense of the Norwegian wilderness. What’s not commonly known to American audiences is that the Norwegian actors in the film are mostly comedians, something that the native audiences would have picked up on right away in setting the overall tone.

The film begins with a film crew of college students trying to follow a bear hunt. Glenn Erland Tosterud is the young reporter and Johanna Mørck is running the sound, with Tomas Alf Larsen behind the camera. A group of men hired by the Norwegian government are on the trail of a bear who has killed some cattle in the area. But they are complaining that a poacher is following them and is after the bear for himself, illegally. The kids, naturally curious, think that’s the better story and start tracking the poacher. After they discover his trailer and approach him, Otto Jespersen tells them to go away, but they follow him the next night. Out in the woods they see lights flashing and suddenly Jespersen emerges from the woods ordering them to run and shouting the word “Troll!” Giant trees are shaking and the ground is shuddering underfoot as they run for cover. Tosterud is wounded during the race and when they reach Jespersen’s Jeep he gives them a ride to their car only to discover it has been totaled and has slime dripping from it. Jespersen is reluctant to tell them what is going on, but asks them if they really believe a bear did that to their car.

When the kids beg him to tell him what really happened, he finally relents and says they can go out with him the next night and film the whole thing for posterity. And that’s when things turn comical. Jespersen works for the TSS, the Troll Security Service, ridding the country of trolls. The whole thing is played seriously, which definitely works to its advantage. There is a government cover up, however, that strains even the most earnest attempt at holding a straight face when Polish consultants bring dead Eastern European bears to plant in the woods to take the blame for the deaths the trolls are responsible for. And that’s before we even get to the three Billy Goats Gruff. The special effects are very good, and the trolls look best when using the night vision lens. But they’re still trolls, no matter how huge, and the long noses and tails are not something that is immediately going to inspire fear. Otto Jespersen does a good job as the battle weary troll hunter, but some of the supporting actors are a little obvious. Hans Morten Hansen as the government agent, and especially Robert Stoltenberg as the Pole are pretty phony, but then that’s part of its charm. Troll Hunters is not really my kind of film, but it is unique and entertaining in its own way.

No comments:

Post a Comment