Yay! Another found footage horror movie, meaning we know that everybody is going to end up dead. Especially as it tells us that the footage was literally found on its own unedited and in chronological order. Never fear though, because Troll Hunter is just as fun as fellow found-footage film Frankenstein’s Army.
This Norwegian sillyfest mixes up Norse mythology (squee when you hear a variation of the word “Jotunheim”), fairytale conventions (we literally see three goats on top of a bridge) and a mockumentary style. We follow three students who happen across some carnage and a dead bear, as well as a gruff old bloke named Hans (Nordic comedian Otto Jespersen in a gleefully deadpan role channelling Indiana Jones), who insists that the bear did nothing. He keeps mum about what he thinks it is that actually did it, so the group tail him into the forest, filming the whole time. After a few minutes, out comes Hans, screaming just the world “TROLL!!!”
And there we go from here. Hans allows the group to tag along and film his trollhunting, provided they do exactly as he tells them, which includes rubbing “concentrated troll stench” all over their skin and clothes like a putrid form of camouflage. There’s not a ton of tension, even when one of the kids gets bitten (though it looks like he’d just slept on a pitchfork), and the trolls themselves are too cartoonish to be feared, like oversized versions of Gollum. What’s worse is that every sequence with the trolls is bathed in a green, sort-of-night-vision filter, which only appears for the duration of when the trolls are on-screen, and it cuts right back to regular lighting even though the other characters haven’t moved.
The mockumentary style adds layers of humour and charm on top of absolutely everybody’s deadpan performances, but it’s a bit surprising that, for a movie that “claims” that the “found footage” was unedited etc., there are hardly any moments of downtime, in which characters could be better explored through inconsequential dialogue (especially as we know they’re going to die soon anyway). The setting is gorgeous (dat scenery), and there are plenty of moments in which the cameraman captures some pretty stunning panoramic views of cliffs and mountains at sunset (not hard, considering he’s flawlessly captured everything else so far)
It feels overlong at times (it’s over 100 minutes), and there are some dry, borderline repetitive moments that had me almost nodding off (too much “oh, here’s a new place to look at now”), but this can be forgiven as the action picks up pretty quickly again. The fact that these characters are inexperienced students filming interviews, chases, etc., flattens the pace a little. Just know that this is a charmingly cheesy film that lifts some of the better style ideas from The Blair Witch Project but puts its own fun, Nordic spin on it. Let’s hope for a sequel from this team rather than the apparent remake from the mitts of Chris Columbus.