Updated on 07/04/2020
Hello There! I’m dos Santos, welcome to Ulven Reviews.
Troll Hunter, original title Trolljegeren, is a Norwegian fantasy film directed by André Øvredal. A trio of students from Volda University College is filming their investigation about a mysterious man who seems to be an illegal bear hunter, but he’s actually something else.
Now, let’s talk about Trolls.
While searching about these creatures, I noticed a lack of information about them in the sources I had in hand. I have various books on mythology, even one or another specifically on Nordic mythology, but whatever I could find had very little info on the Troll subject.
The best I could find in books was in the Biren Bonnerjea’s A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology (1927, p. 235). According to it, Troll is:
A supernatural being, conceived sometimes as a dwarf, sometimes as a giant, fabled to inhabit caves, hills, and like places. Later, this word came to mean a familiar but impish dwarf.BONNERJEA, Biren. Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology, 1927.
The website Life in Norway explains that most of the Nordic mythology was passed by oral tradition. With few written sources and with no consensus among scholars, there’s overlap in many terms regarding Nordic creatures, making difficult the original definition of Troll. That might explain my difficulty in finding a decent description of it in the books I have.
Mythology.net describes the Trolls, among other things, with the appearance of stone, wild hair, and a range of odd characteristics like single-eye and multiple heads. All these characteristics are present in the movie.
After reading more deeply these sources, I noticed that the difference between the Trolls from Folklore, and those from the movie is their intelligence.
Some Trolls from the Scandinavian folklore are more human-like in appearance and intelligence, having communities and even farming. While the ones portrayed in the movie are no different than a common animal, like bears, for example.
I’m only talking about the points that help understand the movie, and see the differences between the film and real-life folklore. The two sites I used to have a better idea about Trolls have more in-depth information about them, so if you want to check it out, the links will be in the description box below.
Troll Hunter is a mockumentary found-footage style. The movie opens by telling us that the tapes were anonymously sent to Filmkameratene AS, a production company around Oslo.
In the tapes, three young students are filming an investigative documentary about a mysterious poacher. Bear hunting is a very well state-regulated activity in Norway, so the suppose poacher is causing an uproar with the licensed bear hunters.
The students are Kalle (played by Tomas Alf Larsen), the camera operator, Johanna (played by Johanna Mørck), the audio operator, and Thomas (played by Glenn Erland Tosterud) the interviewer.
When the trio finds Hans (played by Otto Jespersen), the alleged bear poacher, he refuses to talk with them, so the students decide to follow him to finally find out what this guy is really up to. That’s when the crew finds themselves in the middle of a troll hunt.
Troll Hunter is an easy to watch film, listed as Horror-Fantasy, but it’s actually a funny comedy. I’m talking about genuine comedy, not the involuntary type like Night of the Lepus. It made me laugh from beginning to end.
The story is very creative, legitimately original, and portrayed uniquely. Even though it’s a Found-Footage movie, it’s very different than the others in this sub-genre in almost every aspect. The only film I can think of that has similarities with Troll Hunter is 2014’s What We Do in the Shadows.
The essential core of characters is very small, consisting of the three students and the hunter. The rest of the supporting cast has very brief participation. Thomas (the interviewer) and Hans (the hunter) were my favorite characters. Just as a side note, Thomas reminded me of Everton goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford.
On the other hand, I didn’t like Kalle and Johanna all that much. They are necessary for the plot to make sense, but they’re not as appealing as characters as Thomas and Hans.
The standard in evaluating the cinematography of a movie like Troll Hunter is different than when we do it for a “normal” movie. In this case, it’s understandably mediocre cinematography because it’s supposed to be a found-footage, filmed by students. Still, it got its merits.
Something usual in Found-Footage movies is the heavy use of the shaky camera in the stupid attempt of emulating an amateur operator, making it unrealistic. In Troll Hunter, the guy with the camera is a proper cameraman, so there’s no bullshit. Also, the landscape is really stunning, helping, an otherwise mediocre, cinematography be a little better.
The only thing that happens, but not too often, is that sometimes we can’t see anything, because Kalle is running for his life, and filming stays in the second plan. These moments are well used by the director to build suspense.
Most of the time, I couldn’t tell when in the movie was CGI, stop-motion, costumes, miniatures, and so on. I didn’t watch any behind-the-scenes, so I really don’t know and couldn’t tell from just looking. I’m no specialist, but I would say the special effects are excellent.
Troll Hunter has some frailties, but it’s funny, it has likable characters, and a well-explored folkloric elements, making me very fond of this movie. I’ll give Troll Hunter 9 Moons.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget to be kind and respectful with wild creatures. Bye!