Friday, September 16, 2011

Troll Hunter (2011)

The found footage film has become something of a genre of its own in recent years.

In the notorious video nasty, Cannibal Holocaust (1980), a group of documentary filmmakers went off to the Amazon Basin for one of the most shocking movies ever made, but it wasn’t until four film students wandered off into the Burkittsville woods for The Blair Witch Project (1999) and were never seen again, that we began to see a steady flow of movies each year with a similar setting.

Troll Hunter

Paranormal Activity (2007), Cloverfield (2008), Quarantine (2008) and The Last Exorcism (2010) have all had varying degrees of success with audiences and critics, but for the most part, I found them rather interesting.

The problem with most found footage films is that, by their very nature, we’ve already established the outcome. It’s up to filmmakers to be very crafty storytellers to come up with an ending we haven’t already worked out from the tagline.

Troll Hunter follows three students who are investigating a series of bear shootings in the mountainous regions of Western Norway. As they track a suspected bear poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen), they learn the story is much bigger than they imagined.

Hans is actually a troll hunter and Norway is home to many of these legendary beasts that have managed to go unnoticed for hundreds of years. Towering, fearsome and with a stench that would stay with you for days, they’re kept from the outside world by men like Hans. He uses bright lights to fend them off and turn them to stone and even gets close enough for a blood sample.

The students are fascinated and want to continue filming but he has just one question – are any of them Christian? A troll can smell the blood of a Christian and while they all too eagerly nod “no” you have a sneaking suspicion this is going to come back and bite them in the ass later on.

While the trolls themselves are something new for the found footage genre, storywise there’s not much ground here we haven’t seen covered before in other movies. The characters make the same choices they always do and overall I found it was a missed opportunity to tell us something really truly unique or unexpected.

Troll Hunter attempts to explain the existence of these creatures in scientific terms, but there seems to be a clash with the religious aspect – Christian blood-sniffing. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and filmmakers seem to be having fun with the genre but don’t quite go as far as parodying it.

It’s just too funny when we see Hans running out of the darkened woods yelling “Troll!!!” at the frightened students. In another scene we see the effect light has on one of these mythical creatures and though the effects done really well, I really couldn’t stop laughing. There’s just an absurdity to it that I found enjoyable and which you don’t normally find in found footage movies.

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