Friday, September 16, 2011

Halloween Horror Recommendation! - Troll Hunter

'Halloween Horror Recommendation!' is an ongoing series where we take a quick look at some of my favorite horror movies of all time! Sometimes they are big sometimes they are small but every time they are guaranteed to make you shriek with fright! Updated every Friday from now until October 31st!


Every now and then I like to cover films that you might not otherwise know about. Troll Hunter is an excellent example of a movie that if I did not know anything about prior, could have very easily walked by on the store shelf and not even given a second glace at. They say you should never judge a book by it's cover but after working at a video store for four years I can tell you that more times than not you can judge a film by it's title. Usually something as goofy sounding as Troll Hunter would be a low budget mess, featuring bad actors and even worse direction and plot. Fortunately though, Troll Hunter manages to do none of those things and ends up being a unique film experience that is just different enough to make it worth your while in tracking down!

Troll Hunter is a relatively new film, that originally was released in a very limited theatrical run in 2010 bringing in roughly $247,330 at the American box offices. It is actually just now being released on DVD here in the states so if you want to own a copy of Troll Hunter now would be the most opportune time to go to your local store and purchase a copy while it is still relatively easy to find. Troll Hunter is a foreign film, being shot on location in Norway and with native Norwegian actors. You can either choose to watch the movie in its native language with English subtitles or it gives you the option to watch it with an English audio track. Like most foreign films I elected to watch it with its native dialog and read the subtitles and this is the way I would recommend most view the film. There is always far more emotion in the voices of the real actors than the ones who replace the dialog in the studio.

Troll Hunter is rated PG-13 for "some sequences of creature terror" thus making it a different kind of horror movie. This is not your typical Freddy or Jason slasher flick and some would argue that it really only falls under the loose definition of the horror genera. Troll Hunter falls under the same category of horror that a film like "Jaws" would be classified as. So keep that in mind when watching it. Another important aspect to remember is that Troll Hunter is a "found footage" film in the same style as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, or Paranormal Activity. This differs from the documentary style approach of The Last Exorcismin which that was a fake documentary that was edited together with music and titles. Troll Hunter is instead found footage, meaning that it is exactly how it was in the state that it was found with no additional edits done to the movie.

I for one am a big, big fan of this style of film making and while it is no longer as new or innovative as it was in 1999 with the release of The Blair Witch Project it is still a very effective and unique way to approach a film. Especially one like Troll Hunter, which if it was shot with more traditional methods, would run the risk of looking campy. Instead the way the film is shot goes a long way in helping to make it seem much more believable and far more entertaining.

The plot of Troll Hunter is that a group of three college film students set out to make a documentary on some apparent illegal bear poaching that have been going on in Norway. They set out to track down an individual that they believe is responsible for these poachings, Hans Trolljegeren, and actually camp outside his mobile home and follow him around into the woods late one night. It is of course to there surprise when they find out that Hans is not poaching bears (as a matter of fact that is a cover up for what is really going on.) but he instead works for the Norwegian government as a Troll Hunter.

This sounds silly, I know but you sort of just have to give it a go for a couple of minutes and you will find that the film manages to take itself so serious in the way trolls are presented that you actually cannot help but to start to believe this unbelievable concept. The films writers go a long way to bring about little details to help make everything seem real. In one scene a troll explodes when hit with ultraviolet light, it is then explained in the next that this is due to the rapid expansion of cells within the trolls body. The entire movie is littered with all sorts of little details and nuances that quite frankly an American writer or director would probably have left out of the film.

The film centers around Hans, a grizzled outdoors man whose job is to keep the troll population under check in Norway. Over the years Hans has became increasingly disgruntled with his job which ultimately is what leads to his decision to allow the student film makers to film what he is doing. To expose the Norwegian Government and show the world what they have been hiding for all these years. The actor who portrays Hans (Otto Jespersen) also goes a long way in helping the films credibility. He plays the character in such a way that you just flat out believe everything he says. It is all a job to Hans and one he is tired of doing at that. This comes through brilliantly in his on screen performance, especially in one scene where he dawns a home made suit of armor to take a blood sample from a rather mean looking troll, but does so in a way that you or I would if we were making copies at the copy machine at work.

Norway itself is the other big star of the film. To an American audience it is presented as this far off beautiful place whose mountains and hills really do look like they could be hiding just about anything. Without giving away too many spoilers much is made of the the electrical power lines that run through Norway and it is very clever how that ties into the actual troll hunting that must be done. Though being a foreign film there is a little that is lost in translation, so to speak. Certain references and certain jokes are made that just simply do not resonate with an American audience. Not unless you are well versed in Norweigan fairy tails prior to watching this film. This does not hurt the overall film but there may be a couple times that you are left wondering why the characters on screen just found something so funny.

Overall Troll Hunter is a very cool flick that is especially fun to watch around Halloween time. It has some darn good special effects as each troll not only looks but sounds different from one another. You are never quite sure what is going to happen next and the film takes you places that you could never guess. While the films ending leaves much to be desired, considering the "found footage" nature it would have been tough to end it any other way. An American remake is supposedly in the works so I suggest going out and seeing this original that way you can impress all you friends with the remake hits theaters in a couple years!

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