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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review: Trollhunter (12A) ★★★★
A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.

Since The Blair Witch Project, faux documentaries are now common place in mainstream cinema, readily gobbled up by eager and hungry movie goers.
The success of the Paranormal Activity franchise is testament to this fact. They shouldn't work that well now since everyone knows that they're fake but they continue to do well at the box office none-the-less. Trollhunter will continue this fad but maybe not this original Norwegian film but the obvious upcoming American remake.

At it's core Trollhunter is basically Blair Witch but with Trolls. It doesn't hide from this, in fact in one glaringly obvious nod to Blair Witch the camera focuses on a petrified girl wearing a beanie. No snot nose though. Maybe the reason it feels so good to watch is because of the homage to Blair Witch, but that could be doing the film a disservice as on its own it stands up as a really good, enjoyable piece of work.

The story starts out with three university students making a documentary on bear hunting. After speaking to some local, legal, hunters they're pointed in the direction of the rather strange character Hans who they suspect of illegally hunting and killing bears in their region. Eager for a scoop the students find Hans and start following him hoping to catch him in the act. What they actually end up finding is a lone, Norwegian hero whose sole purpose is to protect Norway from Trolls. Yes, Trolls.

What follows is a series of adventures, spread across several regions of Norway, with Hans doing battle with each Troll specific to said region. Some have three heads, one actually does live under a bridge and then there's the big bad one that starts to drive the narrative of the story.

What made the film most enjoyable for me was the character of Hans. He really is the Norwegian equivalent of Quint from Jaws. Gruff, unpleasant to be around but at his heart a hero. Hans really appears to be fearless in his job, taking on all manner of Trolls armed with an ultraviolet light that shoots pulses of light like some silent shotgun. In one awesome scene he dresses like the black night from Monty Python's Holy Grail and takes on a troll three times his size with only a syringe. The man is made of steel, literally.

It's around Hans where the story finds its central pivot, each scene being more crazy and outlandish than the last but having him to rely on to bring gravitas back to the viewer. You start to feel for Hans once he starts to open up about his long career and really connect, I can't praise the actor enough for his take on the character. Truly awesome stuff.

This film is getting some good visibility on TV channels such as E4 and at numerous film festivals but I fear it may go unwatched by many until the inevitable American remake comes around. Its a shame because this should be seen by many more people and shows how to make a real, engrossing faux documentary. Para'snoremal' Activity take note - you could learn a lot from our Scandinavian cousins.


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