If you are tired of those shaky, found footage mockumentaries, well, that's too damn bad. The device is being employed frequently these days and it is producing some of the best horror available in years. Cloverfield, [Rec], and its American doppelganger, Quarantine, and Paranormal Activity, were each of them very solid additions to the horror catalog.
Now comes Troll Hunter out of Norway. It strikes me as the best of the lot, as well as one of the freshest and most engaging monster movies I have ever seen. I've seen a lot.
Trolljergeren is directed by André Øvredal. The film is in Norwegian with English subtitles, though a good bit of English is spoken by some Polish bear traffickers. I view it as a general rule that any movie with Polish bear traffickers speaking English to Norwegians is worth watching.
The film begins with three college students following and filming a man they believe to be a bear poacher. Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud) and Johana (Johana Mørck) are both very convincing as naïve youngsters playing at the roles of investigative reporters. Hans (Otto Jespersen), whose truck and weathered trailer they are following, stands of course in stark contrast: older, jaded, and sporting a magnificent beard under his wide-brimmed hat. After several attempts to shoo them away, he decides to let them film the big secret he is in on. He is tired, of keeping secrets among other things. As you may guess from the clip above, he is not so much a Troll Hunter as a Troll warden.
Unlike any of the other mockumentaries, Troll Hunter is full of gorgeous footage. A lot of their time is spent zipping up rain splashed pavement with fjords and misty mountains always in view. The wet realism of the scenery was one the things that kept me watching.
One of the bits of genius in the cinematic recipe was a taste for subtly pretty everywhere except, of course, when a troll actually comes into view. There are a few splashes of scientific pseudo explanations, a dash of secret government agency paranoia, and just a pinch of supernatural spice. Let this stand for one small spoiler: the Trolls don't like the smell of Christian blood.
The trolls themselves look as sound about as real as any creature could that has escaped from a children's collection of fairy tales. Since they are always up when the sun isn't, they can blend in with the darkness or gray fog. A Darwinian adaptation? We report, you decide. I'll just say that I can't think of large monsters that ever seemed so real on camera.
One of the most important tasks of dark fantasy cinema is to take the childhood ogre and make it feel real again. Troll Hunter does this very well. I give it four stars out of four.
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