Title: The Troll Hunter
Director: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Morck, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Naerum
Simply put, the 90 minute documentary styled “The Troll Hunter,” is easily the best in the genre since “The Blair Witch Project” popularized this concept. In some instances, it may actually be better than the innovative horror flick that has inspired this genre of fake documentaries; including the current “Paranormal Activity” franchise.
By cutting out the all the pondering and ancillary footage, that really doesn’t have any entertainment value for the viewer – something that “Paranormal Activity” failed to do – this presentation requires one’s full attention. Something interesting is always happening here, whether it be the visual on the screen or the engaging dialogue which ends up telling a mythical story.
The setting of this tale is in the country of Norway. Three university students (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Morck) are filming a documentary about unorthodox bear killings throughout the area. When they reach the scene of the latest occurrence, they notice a man dressed in camouflage and a leather jacket. He seems to know what is going on, for everyone else who are introducing themselves as “officials” are relaying vague messages to reporters. On a hunch, the three follow the mysterious man known as Hans (Otto Jespersen). He drives a steroidal jeep and lives in a small trailer attached to the back of his armored ride.
At first he ignores the three students. But that does not deter the group from following him into the snowy woods at night. When they do finally catch up with him, he implores them to run. They’re not sure why at first, but once they see what Hans is scampering away from – a giant troll – they all get a move on. The group is feeling both fear and ecstasy from this experience. They convince Hans to let them tag along on his troll hunts, and he agrees. From there, he educates the eyes-wide-open crew on the history of trolls and how he and the secret Troll agency, “control” them.
Let’s tackle the one fault this production fails to deal with. And it starts right from the beginning. This is one of those movies, that tries to trick the audience into thinking this is real footage, complete with the usual disclaimer that states, “Nothing has been tampered with.” Well, that is a load of crap since this was clearly edited. So it looses its authenticity and feels produced. And you know what…Continuity issues aside…The viewer will be just fine with that.
Unlike “Cloverfield” and “The Fourth Kind,” this delivery just brings in the entertaining elements the audience is waiting for. One will not have to wait too long to see a troll (and there’s a variety to see) and/or deal with boring explorations that lead to nowhere. When the group visits a possible troll site, the audience gets plenty to chew on, thanks to the nice CGI and camera angles. When “Hans” is addressing the three on how to handle themselves when coming in contact with these giant trolls, the dialogue is page-turner. This approach may not mesh with the intended execution of depicting raw chronological footage, but this one deserves a pass on that criteria.
A few other quick notes you need to know: There are subtitles and that may bother some. Also, the majority of folks may have a concern about whether the hand-held cinematography will stay in-focus on certain shots (mainly the trolls) so they can take in the beast. Well it does, and you will be satisfied.
There is something to be said about not revealing the hook of a story – in this case, the troll – until at least halfway through. Like “Jaws,” the great shark wasn’t fully shown until deep into the second act. With this script showing some of its cards early on, the suspense could be dialed down as it progresses. But once again, the next hunt will keep your interest levels peeked. And if that doesn’t do it, the phenomenal shots of the Norwegian landscape will help.
Overall, “The Troll Hunter” forgoes the foreplay and gets right to the main attraction. Sure it takes a few breaks for pillow talk, but when it’s ready to rock again, the flick brings it hard.
The Troll Hunter will be available On-Demand on May 6th and have a select release in theaters on June 10th. Go here for Release Information
Review by Joe Belcastro