Saturday, 7 January 2012

Watched - no 29 - Troll Hunter (Andre Ovredal, 2010)

The proliferation of 'found footage' and mockumentary films over the last few years, especially in horror/sci-fi pieces, has reached the point where an audible groan is likely to accompany the news of yet another excursion into a once genuinely creative area. Thankfully Andre Ovredal's Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter) successfully uses the now overly familiar traits of the 'found footage'/ mockdoc film – verite camerawork, onscreen titles, night vision sequences – to enhance rather than detract from this dark, slyly satirical Norwegian fantasy. Whilst not being a radical departure in terms of style or structure, Troll Hunter, both written and directed by Ovredal, charms, and at times thrills, with its endearingly offbeat tale of Norway's lone Troll hunter Hans, played by comedian Otto Jespersen, and the creatures he has to do battle with.

The film is the footage of three documentary making college students - interviewer Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), sound recordist Johanna (Johanna Morck) and cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) - sent anonymously to a media outlet in the aftermath of the events depicted onscreen during the students time filming suspected bear poacher Hans. Drawing on Troll mythology, Governmental conspiracies and environmental concerns, Troll Hunter may be a monster movie at heart but it has plenty of time (and maybe in hindsight a little too much) to touch on issues that affect the real world. After pursuing the mysterious Hans with the same dogged determination that he tracks his prey the students are, understandably, shocked by the discovery that Trolls, the fairy tale creatures of Scandinavian folklore, are in fact very much real and known to exist by the authorities. What unfolds is a game of cat and mouse between Hans and a variety of Trolls – the Ringlefinch, Tosserlad, Mountain Kings and the giant Jotnar – that for some reason have gone rogue into each others territories, the students intent on capturing proof of their existence and Hans' boss Finn (Hans Morten Hansen), officially the head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board and surreptitiously the chief of the top secret TSS (Troll Security Service), who is determined that this unlikely secret remain so.

Shot on a small budget, with the CGI Trolls being particularly well realised given the financial constraints, Troll Hunter does have it longueurs - a little less of the chatting and, admittedly stunning, Norwegian terrain and a lot more Troll based action would have been welcomed – but it is confidently directed, played dead straight by the impressive cast (many of whom are unknowns) and the screenplay provides laughs as well as a healthy awareness of both eco-crises and Governmental cover ups. Don't wait for the tediously predictable American remake, get a hold of the recently released DVD and enjoy this bizarrely memorable creature feature.


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