Director: André Øvredal
Writer: André Øvredal
Cinematographer: Hallvard Bræin
Stars: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen
Studio/Running Time: Magnet Releasing, 90 min.
There’s no denying that at its beginning, Troll Hunter seems like another Blair Witch Project knock-off. Not that Blair Witch began the found-footage genre, but it set the standard for horror pictures, most recently emulated by the Paranormal Activity franchise. The first 20 minutes of Troll Hunter show us a young camera crew investigating some unexplained bear deaths and a suspicious man who may be poaching them. But rather than drawing out the mystery, it takes a sharp turn and tells us matter-of-factly that of course it was trolls killing the bears, and not only that, here’s one of them ready to bonk you on the head.
The titular Troll Hunter extraordinaire is played by the affable comedian Otto Jespersen and he soon decides to hell with the whole secrecy business and instead takes the crew on for a wild, faux-verite ride through troll country. Turns out there’s a big government cover-up in Norway to hide the trolls from the people and when they need one taken down Jespersen’s who they turn to. He gives the crew some basic lessons in troll biology during his investigation into what’s been riling up the local troll population, and we get to watch the whole thing unfold.
The trolls themselves look just good enough to work. They’re by no means something James Cameron would sign off on, but neither do they look like something tossed together in 1998. This isn’t CGI that’s going to date well, but right now the trolls are still exciting and along with the unsurprisingly shaky camerawork they come off as believable enough.
Significantly better than the trolls themselves is Jespersen, who brings the entire monster premise to an entirely different level through his nonchalant attitude. He’s essentially a tour guide who thinks his job is boring, despite the fact that it’s rather insane. Jespersen gives the typically overwrought genre levity and personality and—more than the trolls—makes the picture unique.
Anyone wanting Troll Hunter to be a horror flick will be disappointed, as will anyone who wants the movie to be totally serious. But its B-movie attitude is perfect for a self-aware monster movie that happens to look a lot better than its $3 million dollar budget would suggest. In every sense, Troll Hunter lives up to its ridiculous name and premise.