Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TROLLHUNTER (2010): or, Don't Feed the Trolls

October Horror Movie Challenge, Day 3!
A group of conservation-minded college students, on the trail of a man they think is poaching the fiercely regulated and protected bear population of their native Norway, think they have found the perfect subject for their Dokumentar 101 final project. But as they follow the rough, enigmatic hunter on his mysterious nightly raids, they find themselves at the center of a whole different wildlife conservation battle, focused on a much rarer and more dangerous native predator: the Troll.

Just when you think endless knockoffs and repetitions have completely sapped the found footage subgenre of its vitality and creativity, along comes a group of plucky Norwegians to show us there's life in the old bird yet. Combining a believable documentary style with a clear passion for the fairy tales and folklore of his native land, writer/director André Øvredal creates an exciting, funny, and truly inventive take on the old Giant Monsters Amok tropes. Throw in government cover-ups, eccentric bear hunters, and a gruff monster-fighting badass of the Ash/Reggie the Ice Cream Man stamp (Otto Jespersen, whom I could almost believe really is an honest-to-Odin Trolljegeren), and you've got a good time for everybody.

The rest of the cast is good too, but the real stars of the show are of course the trolls. Here the "documentary" style really helps a lot, as Øvredal is able to use shadows, dusky light, and night-vision effects to help sell the idea of a twenty-foot tall, three-headed beast rampaging through the forest. The movie is edited extremely well, with exciting chases and entertaining bits of dialogue explaining the folklore for the uninitiated. (For instance, it's important to the Troll Hunter to ensure that none of the documentary crew are Christians, since trolls can "smell the blood of a Christian man.") Several troll species are represented, and my favorite scene involves a witty take on one of the most treasured Grimm Fairy tales from my childhood. Most importantly, by the time the two-hundred foot Final Boss showedup, I found my imagination so engaged that I didn't even think about the CG. Which seldom happens, and is a big complement.

2.75 thumbs. Recommended!

"Do you mind? I'm tryin' to dump some gravel here!"

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