Saturday, 24 September 2011

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TrollHunter - SIFF 2011

Opinion: B+

For a found-footage film about hunting the paranormal, it features some impressive visual effects that allows the hunted subject to appear more engaging and especially majestic in the final scene. With that, it also translates into a monster flick rather than a horror thriller. Interesting comedy scripting into this Norwegian hunt of folklore trolls makes this an even more compelling genre to watch.

A group of Norwegian students set out to make a documentary about a series of mysterious bear killings, but their investigations soon lead them to learn that the bears are actually being killed by trolls - real Norwegian trolls. Further investigations lead the group to a man whom they believe to be a troll hunter. Filmed in a mockumentary style (such as in Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity) and showcasing some of the most beautiful parts of Norwegian countryside, The Troll Hunter is a brilliant mix of comedy, gore, and impressive visuals that's sure to win over the staunchest horror fans.

Having heard so much about this highly-acclaimed Norwegian monster film about trolls had definitely made this a must-watch when it screened at the SIFF this year.

Enjoying it on the large screen with a impacting sound system definitely enhanced the experience. I have to say that the cinematic sound quality had hugely heightened the film's influence on my senses. Every footstep of the gigantic troll felt like an earthquake aftershock and the consequential snapping of the tree branches sounded crisp.

TrollHunter, directed and co-written by André Øvredal, sets itself up right into the middle of nowhere (in making it more plausible as found-footage material) and quickly speeds up with short and sharply edited sequences of three youthful Norwegian students in attempt of investigating a recent series of unexplained killings. This instantly rang the bell of familiarity as it highly reminded me of the three in Blair Witch Project.

But here's what makes it different.

Casting the decision of blatantly showing the trolls on screen aside, there was a good sense of hilarity that felt a lot like spoof writing by André Øvredal and Håvard S. Johansen. They mostly shot sarcasm at several situational direness.

The featured TrollHunter decided to allow the student filmmakers to expose the truth behind the Norwegian Government's attempt at covering up the existence of troll activities. All because he's not contented with the lack of graveyard shift allowances and poor remuneration as the nation's sole TrollHunter.

Unexpected, it made me laugh at his direct answer with a straight face. Oh yes, his straight face throughout the film made all his sarcastic lines even more funny.

Bringing the laugh even further beyond, the film even tried to infuse science to explain the rationale behind some of the trolls turning instantly into stone when UV rays were upon them. Some explode into bits of bloody mess when subjected to sunlight. Scientific studies were conducted through vials of blood samples drawn from them with the help of the TrollHunter.

How is that possible you ask? He marches towards ferocious trolls donning silly-looking tin metal suits like a knight inching unsuspectingly towards a dragon.

Returning to my earlier comment of how the trolls were indiscreetly revealed on the silver screen, it did subsequently reduce the horror element drastically. We all know that the Blair Witch Project was scary because we didn't get to see the Blair Witch. But it is evident that TrollHunter's really projecting itself as a monster film like Cloverfield, albeit less serious and more hilarious.

When they showed several sequences of trolls, some in the pitch dark twilight and some through greenish night vision, it was obviously a high risk game they played. Since this was meant to be a found-footage that had to be believable to the audience, the trolls had to look believable as well.

Thanks to some relatively good visual effects, the standards were amazingly good though not comparable to the best of what expensive Hollywood productions could achieve. TrollHunter would have been like any other budget found footage films that commonly relied upon extensive props and makeup to deliver the goods, if not for its fortunate VFX. Have a look at its breakdown below:

With great technical production values that made this film so spectacular to behold, it's truly an entertaining journey in seek of Norwegian folklore creatures that engulfs our beliefs and senses for 90 minutes and then some.


  1. That's what I would give it as well - a B+. Cinemarvellous! had recommended it and I really enjoyed this film.

  2. @Alex Yes indeed he did. It was also one of the reasons why I had an eye for this film for quite a while until it showed up on my side. Glad that you'd enjoyed the film like I did! :)

  3. Thanks for the mention, guys. Really appreciate it. Glad I was the reason to see this, and as I can see you both weren't disappointed. J-Son, you got it 100%, buddy. You;re a great watcher, kudos for that. I rated it that high because of its uniqueness and spot-on execution. It was fun, entertaining, interesting, scary and original at the same time. :)


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