‘Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?’
As is the way with many horror films these days, a group of students are producing a video. It begins with the discovery of a dead bear but it soon becomes apparent to the young filmmakers that there is something more mysterious to this bear’s appearance in the countryside than simply hunting or poaching. They decide that a strange chap with a battered old jeep could be the key to the mystery so they follow him but, despite his warnings, end up in the forest with their car trashed by an incredibly powerful and violent creature. It turns out to be the act of an enormous troll that has lived in the area for centuries and has a very nasty temper. It appears that the Norwegian government has task forces dedicated to tracing troll activities and even hires experienced experts like Hans, who understands the differences between particular species. Hans agrees to allow the students to film his investigations into the latest troll activities. ‘I’ll let you film me killing the thing.’ But will they find further creatures out there and, if they do, what are their chances of survival?
You may have thought that trolls were those annoying people who write inflammatory comments on internet notice boards or may associate them with those vaguely disturbing 1980’s toys, neither of which are likely to set your pulse racing in terms of an exciting cinematic experience. So how about huge mythical scary monsters that enjoy indulging in various forms of brutal animalistic violence? There. Much more exciting. Troll Hunter takes a traditional monster tale, films it in trendy documentary style and places it in the countryside with a new and original form of fiend to create a different perspective on a familiar genre. Like the characters filming proceedings, the audience are slowly given revelations about the creatures. Just as vampire and werewolf mythologies seen in genre films have their own rules, so does troll hunting, most notably that of the monsters being able to smell the blood of Christians, hence Hans’ insistence that the filmmakers can only join him if they declare themselves to be non-Christian.
The trolls themselves are hugely enjoyable monsters of the kind that will appeal to audiences wanting a return to the joy of kaiju cinema or the stop motion style effects of Ray Harryhausen, although the film’s construction and modernity is very much a reflection of video technology that looks towards the trendy hand-held horrors that it derives much of its style from. Overall this is an amusing and enjoyable low budget romp that is great fun to watch and whose minimal expenditure does not diminish its presentation but enhances it. Good fun, not overly grotesque but with plenty of exciting monster action when you want it.