Monday, January 05, 2015

Trollhunter/Trolljegeren (2010)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I recently found out that I could use my own Netflix account, which is actually a profile of my parents’ account, to stream movies.  This meant that I could go through my massive queue and see what was available to watch on my computer.  One of those movies was Trollhunter.  All I knew was that it was about some guy that hunts trolls, hence the name.  What I didn’t realize was that it was presented as found footage.  I decided to stick with it, despite not being a big fan of the whole concept.  (I recently watched and liked LunopolisThe Blair Witch Project and Apollo 18, not so much.)

The story begins by telling us that footage was anonymously sent in to Filmkameratene AS, the company that produced the film.  They shortened it to 1:43 and presented it as this movie.  Thomas, Johanna and Kalle are three students making a documentary about a bear poacher.  In Norway, the hunting of bears is strictly regulated.  One registered bear hunter says that he knows all of the other bear hunters in Norway.  This guy, Hans, isn’t one of them.  He’s the kind of guy that goes off in the night and returns in the morning.  No one’s seen him kill a bear, but one usually shows up just before he moves on.

The students try to approach Hans for an interview, but he bluntly refuses and tells them to get lost.  They follow him only to see bright flashes of light.  Hans comes back and screams, “Troll!”  They make it back to Hans‘s truck, but Thomas is bitten by something.  Hans relents and tells them that if they want to film what attacked Thomas, they have to do what Hans says unconditionally.  They agree.  What follows is Hans hunting and killing several trolls along with interviews with Hans and several other people.

Hans tells them that he’s the only troll hunter in all of Norway.  The Norwegian government wants to keep knowledge of trolls to a minimum.  He has a contact in the government called Finn, who works at the Troll Security Service.  There’s also a vet that he brings stuff to when necessary.  Other than that, there are people brought in on a need-to-know basis, like a team of people that bring in bears used to take the blame when someone gets hurt.

It’s not really clear why the secrecy is necessary.  Trolls only come out at night and seem to avoid people.  Hans is only called in if a troll poses some sort of threat.  It’s also not clear how secrecy is kept, as trolls can grow to over 200 feet tall.  (Ones that tall register on seismographs.)  One of the reasons that Hans agrees to let the film crew in on it is that he’s no longer sure why he’s keeping the secret.  There are plenty of dangerous animals out there that everyone knows about.  Maybe people should know.

This is sort of what I expected The Blair Witch Project to be.  It has that same angle of people trying to document something, except that here, they’re trying to document something as ordinary as bear poaching.  In both cases, they have no idea what they’re getting into.  The difference is that I’ve heard of trolls, even if they’re bigger than I would have expected.  One of the advantages it has over The Blair Witch Project is that, like Lunopolis, it has a story.  (Lunopolis pulled it off better.)

If you can suspend disbelief long enough, it’s an interesting movie. It’s slow at first, but it does eventually have its moments.  Hans goes into all sorts of stuff like the different kinds of trolls and troll biology.  He even has to make sure that none of the students are Christians, as trolls can smell Christian blood.  (I’m not sure how.)  I’m not going to give away too much, as this may ruin the film and isn’t really necessary for the review.  If you can get it streaming, go for it.  If I had rented it, I probably would have considered it a waste of a rental position.

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