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Guest Post: Troll Hunter (2010)

Courtesy of L.Ro | and this old world is a new world... | Originally posted 1.22.2012

I am way behind on the 50/50 challenge *hangs head in shame.* I’ve seen plenty of new films recently and read two books, but only one of the texts fall into the parameters of the challenge (as I set it up: 50 non-fic books, 50 foreign films). This is not good. What is good, however, is the first film that I watched for the challenge, TrollHunter (2010/2011)

A Norwegian film, TrollHunter, is mocumentary/ lost tapes type of film a la Blairwitch Project and Cloverfield. Usually, I have reserved feelings about the mocumentary genre. The idea itself is intriguing, but the execution usually is only so-so. They’re usually low-budget or filmed as if they were low-budget (to add to the “realness”), which is fine, until you come to the special effects portion of the films. Also, the actors tend not to be that great- though I give them major props; I can only imagine how hard it is to act as if you’re not acting but yet know that you‘re being filmed. And the biggest problem for me: how do we, as the audience, get to see these lost tapes if they‘re supposedly lost and especially if the government has no interest in us seeing them? Can directors and screenwriters give us a plausible explanation for the release of the tapes? Or at least come up with a better intro to the films please? I am more than willing to buy into the “realness” factor, but for me, my belief has to start as soon as the film starts rolling. Anyway back to the film…

I didn’t know much about the film other than it was horror- so I expected to see monsters jumping out at me, but oh, I got so much more. TrollHunter is awesome in how it plays with the audience expectations and biases regarding the mocumentary genre, journalism, fairy tales, and the role and power of government. Like the great sci-fi films, it makes us ask what/who exactly are monsters? Is it the Trolls who roam the Norweigan countryside terrorizing sheep, goats, farmers, tourists, hikers, etc? Or is it us, who in our desire to make our lives more convenient demand that nature conform to our needs? And can I just add here how beautiful Norway is? There are scenes and scenes of Norweigan waterfalls, countryside, mountains, forests, and roads. It’s the ultimate travel ad. I seriously want to go to Norway now, even if/ especially if they do have trolls.

So yes- according to the film Norway has trolls, very much so. But I’m getting ahead of myself, by forgetting to mention plot. The film follows a trio of student journalists who in turn are following Hans, a hunter who is mistrusted by other Norwegian hunters (they believe he might be a poacher).Otto Jespersen is superb as Hans. His acting is critical to making the film really enjoyable and an above grade mocumentary. The other actors are pretty great too: Hans Morten Hansen (Finn Haugen), Tomas Alf Larsen (Kalle), Johanna Mørck (Johanna), Glenn Erland Tosterud (Thomas), Urmila Berg-Domaas (Malica). Hansen as Finn is very good at portraying a government bureaucrat just trying to do his job. Thomas, Johanna, Kalle, and Malica are pretty much like how I imagine they would be. They’re persistent in their quest to follow Hans and The Story, young and a tad foolish, and full of dry humor (I liked the periodic quiet side looks they would give each other).

But really, like Thomas says, Hans is the “hero” of the film. I love the reason he gives as to why he allows them to follow him around: he’s tired of no overtime pay, the lousy hours, the back-breaking labor, etc. So basically like most mere mortals (especially those at the low-end of the payscale) he’s tired of how his employer treat him. And like most superheroes, he does not see himself as a hero. He’s just doing his job, a dirty (literally) and dangerous job that needs doing. And what’s interesting and brilliantly shown is how and why he’s come to sympathize with the trolls even though he still continues to hunt them. I like that the trolls are not portrayed as evil. Yes, they do horrible things; and I would not want to meet one, but they’re just doing what they do.

I think, having a basic knowledge of fairy tales and trolls helps in watching the film. Only because it adds a deeper layer and as I mentioned earlier, the film plays with those beliefs and biases.

So yes- I highly recommend the film. It has plenty of suspenseful and comedic scenes, and lots of traveling scenes (making it a “road movie” in many ways). It’s not very scary in terms of horror, so if you’re looking for a film to give you monster nightmares it won’t. Still it might be good to see the film before the Hollywood remake comes out next year.


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