Norwegian folklore is ripe with creatures and stories to make a million different movies about, and that’s exactly what André Øvredal attempts with Trollhunter. Trolls have become an international creature that has gotten their days in different fairy tales, books and their film adaptations such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Trollhunter shows trolls like I’ve never seen them before and through the eyes of the people whose ancestry created them. That combined with the faux documentary style captured my attention immediately and I was convinced that this movie would not disappoint.
A group of Norwegian college students are out in the country to make a documentary about a supposed bear poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen). At first, he wants nothing to do with the crew, but eventually lets them in on his little secret. He is actually a trollhunter. The crew joins Hans on his mission to hunt down trolls that have wandered off of their own territory, and using a very large UV light that mimics the sun, turn them into stone or, in some cases, make them explode. This is a very dangerous job that has become even more dangerous since something is causing the trolls to be increasingly violent towards humans, ending in a climax that puts even an experienced hunter like Hans face to face with a troll that may be the end of him.
So much imagination went into this movie. SO much imagination. I just could not get enough of this movie as I was watching it and when it was over, I was still left so excited from watching it that I almost refused to accept that it was over. I feel really great about Trollhunter, because it isn’t everyday that I watch a movie with such high expectations, but then have the movie meet them, and even surpass them.
Something strong this movie has going for it are the visual and audio effects. In fact, they kind of steal the show in my opinion. The trolls all look fantastic, especially the towering Jotnar that could crush the crew’s jeep with its pinky. But the trolls don’t just look great, because they may sound even better. The design of the different roars and grunts that the trolls make are so cool and booming, and at times, creepy. The first revelation of the trolls in Trollhunter are so memorable, because we can hear them before we can see them. This makes the sound even more important because we, as an audience in suspense, have to get curious about these trolls and then have the visuals impress as much as the sounds.
Having Trollhunter shot like a documentary is really the only way this could’ve been pulled off. It isn’t often that I think about how a movie would be if it was shot like this or not, but in this one it makes all the difference. Trolls are such deeply mythological creatures that realistically showing how real they can be makes for a very interesting concept. Plus the handheld camerawork and night vision make for some of the best scenes in the movie. Trollhunter isn’t just sold on the camera work and design however. Otto Jespersen as Hans knocks it out of the park as the deadpan trollhunter. Hearing him calmly, almost as if bored out of his mind, deliver lines about trolls and their physiology are hilarious and make up most of the humor in the movie.
Believe it or not, and I don’t know how many people would agree with me, but I would say Trollhunter is officially one of my favorite movies. The whole idea of bringing trolls into reality in such a down to earth (sort of) way is great! Add a bunch of dead pan humor and excellent visual and sound design and you got yourself an awesome movie. Even if you’re hesitant about Trollhunter and think the whole concept is iffy, give it a watch anyway because you just might find yourself having a better time than you would have thought.