Here we go again with another Norweigen, comedy ,fantasy, found footage film. If you’ve seen one…. etc, etc.
A trio of students (for students, read: pesky kids) set out to interview a legendary “bear” hunter but soon discover a world being kept secret from their fellow countrymen. Namely, that Trolls are real, vary in species and behaviour and have to be kept under control by the work of the TSS (seemingly two guys), or Troll Security Service. The film is made up of sequences edited together from the camera the students take along with them which has been found in the mountains.
The Trollhunter himself is the heart of the film. Played with world weary shoulders and a half empty glass by Otto Jesperson, Hans is a classic character, a tough guy with a closed past, turn him sideways and he disappears, he’s smoke and mirrors. Get the illusion right though and he’ll last forever. Hans, despite his exciting occupation, is a modest man who is plagued by low-pay, long nights and bureaucracy up the arsehole. It’s a contrast of the fantastical vs the mundane. Knowing he should probably dissuade the students from following him, the hunter clearly desires company; someone to share in the chase. Come the final confrontation, you feel that maybe, just maybe, he’s back on track with his role in life.
Trollhunter is filled with ideas (maybe overly so) that reflect and reaffirm the myths of trolls and expand them into the twenty first century. The trolls are presented as essentially mindless, nocturnal creatures, with the trollhunter acting as a kind of population controller, keeping their numbers low and restricting them to human free areas. The trolls hunt and eat to survive with one interseting proviso; they can smell, and are angered by, Christians and the belief in God. Several of the best and most comedic scenes utilise this conceit. A Muslim confuses the trollhunter, a hymn is used to to enrage and distract a giant troll. All of this adds to the fun, showing us something we didn’t expect and pleasingly revealing a sense of not taking oneself too seriously, a crime for which more than one low budget, special effects film has been found guilty of.
Special mention must go to the character of Finn, the trollhunter’s handler/boss who deals with the press for the TSS. His explanations for the trolls behaviour, brilliant tactics of blaming Russian Bears for piles of bones under bridges and interaction with the two Polish bear hunters in broken english adds dry humour to the mix and reinforces peoples beliefs that politicians will say anything but the truth.
There are several flaws; the students are essentially unlikeable and are no fun to be around, the trollhunter gives up his secrets so quickly and willingly it’s a wondder the TSS employs him at all and the idea that these creatures (up to 200 foot tall) could even roam about today without google satellites, videophones and population expansion proving their existence is frankly laughable. In the end though, that most crucial thing has been acheived, the desire of the audience to believe and once the film has that it has everything.
It’s impossible to watch Trollhunter without thinking of the horrific massacres that have recently taken place. The films opinions on Christianity, which are so transparent, add a unwanted pall to the jokes when looked at through Anders Breivik’s inner madness.
Trollhunter (or The Troll Hunter according to the credits) is for fans of unlikely conspiracy theories everywhere. It’s kind of an incompetent X files, with a poor, put upon Mulder complaining about the hours and lack of dental coverage in the F.B.I. It’s refreshing in it’s simplicity, audacious in it’s effects and perhaps lacking in some basic story structure, all of it easily forgivable.