In the film student filmographers Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) are told by the local bear hunters that the mysterious man who seems to turn up at the increasingly frequent cattle killings must be a poacher and have something to do with the deaths of the bears that are being blamed for the attacks. The students pursue him and after overcoming his surly reluctance to cooperate he agrees to take them on his troll hunting missions.
They, of course, think he’s out of his mind to believe in trolls and his eccentric behaviour would seem to support that belief but after their first troll encounter they’re forced to become converts as he opens their eyes to the reality of the troll-world around them. Steven Neish wrote a more complete review of Troll Hunter for us at HeyUGuys back in June 2011 which can be found here and is worth reading not only for its admirable accuracy but also because it’s a very nice piece of writing.
What helps make the film special for me is that there are innumerable nice touches from old troll stories, such as their reaction to daylight, their predilection for being under bridges (trip, trap) and chiefly their abhorrence for anything Christian which is something that eventually leads to the death of one of the party, then a humourous situation when a Muslim joins the team and also sets up the final battle between man and giant troll to a musical backdrop of “What a friend we have in Jesus” played over loudspeakers in Norwegian. Utter genius.
If that wasn’t enough the film takes in the most spectacular and utterly gorgeous Norwegian countryside and with a completely straight-faced dedication to the mockumentary art makes some potentially ludicrous situations completely plausible. If Hollywood scriptwriters had pitched this film it would probably have had a musclebound and heroic hunter armed to the teeth with hi-tech weaponry and equipment whereas Troll Hunter serves up a man who is tired and disillusioned with his job, whose main weapon is a strobing sun-lamp, who has to fill in pages of paperwork after each troll kill and whose only armour looks like the kind of thing worn by 19th century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.
On top of that it also has huge doses of casual Government and official self-interest and incompetence that most, if not all, Europeans will be able to identify with which helps lend an extra air of credibility to the film. It’s a masterpiece of European cinema and I hope it will inspire other European filmmakers to take their “road less travelled” to produce films of this quality and originality which, even if they don’t pull in the money of a Hollywood blockbuster, will inspire people to think and see things differently.
The DVD defaults to showing the film in the original Norwegian with English subtitles but also provides the option to watch the film dubbed into English, though my preference would always be for the former as I’ve always felt that it increases the viewer’s “buy in” to a movie. It has a lengthy selection of bonus features with my personal highlights being the background behind the VFX from the various Norwegian VFX studios and the wonderfully funny extended scene of Pioter’s Painter Service.
Troll Hunter is available on DVD and Blu-ray from 9th January and until 23.59 on the 16th January you can try to win a Blu-ray copy here.
Hans collects evidence, If you’re driving 80 kmh, At Finn’s, Wolf! Wolf! Troll hairball
IMPROVS AND BLOOPERS
Trashed car, Frozen pizza and hunters’ stew, bloopers
The electricity goes nowhere, Pioter’s Painter Service, Breakfast at the diner
Superrune – VFX troll on the bridge, digital models of the Ringlefinch, Armour, Sheep (http://www.superrune.com/)
GimpVille – Breakdown – Jotnar (www.gimpville.no)
Storm Studios. http://www.stormstudios.no/
BEHIND THE SCENES
Troll foot – DIY troll making, Good vibes at the shoot, While we wait, Russian Bear, The Tin Man, The beard, Movie stars
Troll habitats, Troll sketches
HDNet A look at Troll Hunter