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Nørdic Monster Flick – THE TROLL HUNTER

THE TROLL HUNTER is a fun romp through the Norwegian countryside – with Trolls thrown in for good measure.

If movies like Cloverfield and Monsters have taught us anything, it’s that filmmakers can sprinkle 5 minutes worth of special effects over 90+ minutes of documentary-styled narrative and create a healthy buzz by lumping all the “good parts” into a misleading, spectacle-laden trailer. Boom. Money in the bank, next project in the works. The only catch is that usually the resulting movie is so freakin’ thin that it doesn’t have a shelf life beyond the initial viewing. Writer-Director André Øvredal‘s highly-anticipated Troll Hunter [a.k.a. Trolljegeren] (2010) seeks to remedy this by keeping its CGI monsters in the background and placing a human character in the foreground – the titular Troll Hunter, played by Otto Jespersen, a man so fed up with his secret state-sponsored job keeping Norway’s trolls in check that he allows an amateur film crew access to his work. Off they go in search of trolls, the skeptical trio of non-believers (trolls can smell god-fearing men, so none are allowed on the trip) rolling their eyes and mocking their eccentric subject – until he delivers the goods. As monsters go, the trolls themselves are a welcome departure – goofy and oafish, they give the film a fantastical and comedic edge, albeit an esoteric one which non-Norwegians won’t fully appreciate. And besides these charming CGI concoctions there’s some good pacing, very dry comedy, and breathtaking, travelogue-like views of Norway’s majestic forests and Fjords to keep the viewer interested between troll sightings (the fact that trolls only come out at night serves the film’s structure well). It’s a fun movie, especially for fans of low budget monster movies, but despite its many qualities The Troll Hunter ends up feeling very much like a blown opportunity, which only just scratches the surface of its numerous subplots (the romantic life of our hero, the fate of our camera crew, the bureaucratic mysteries of the TST) and settles for predictable and contrived twists and turns. And even though filmmakers can chalk the lack of resolution up to the first-person, “lost-footage” trope at the heart of the film, I personally couldn’t shake the feeling that they should have squeezed more humor, magic, and wonderment of those darned trolls, and the man who hunts them.

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