Trolls are Alive and Well and Roaming the Fjords

06/08/2011 4:00 AM |

Trollhunter
Directed by André Øvredal

Gargantuan trolls are alive and well and roaming the Norwegian forests and fjords, and the proof is in a disappeared documentary crew’s 283 hours of footage-serendipitously “found” and edited down to a manageable hour and a half and presented here as Trollhunter. The student filmmakers set out to document a rash of bear poaching in Western Norway, centering on prime suspect Hans, a mythically grizzled lone hunter with a suspiciously claw-slashed jeep. Secretly filming him on a woodland hunt one night, the students discover that Hans is actually tracking more dangerous game, as he runs out of the trees screaming “troll!” Surprisingly, Hans lets the doc crew keep following him because, as a toiler for the government’s top secret Troll Security Service, he is underpaid and disgruntled-an early indication of writer-director André Øvredal’s unseriousness.

This Norwegian addition to the fertile “found-footage” genre adds little to the Cloverfield Witch Activity basics. Some troll flatulence and tongue-in-cheek title cards suggest comedy, but it doesn’t attempt straight parody (2000’s The Bogus Witch Project already did, badly). It’s possible that there are coded references to Norway politics, but the only obvious one is the “revelation” that the country’s rampant, unsightly—and unpopular—power lines actually exist to corral trolls. Before the beasts’ reveal, the only suspense is wondering how big a letdown the CGI will be. It’s not awful, but the threatening, gray Ringlefinches, Tosserlads, and Jotnar trolls have no more personality than the Cloverfield critter. They are particularly violent towards Christian believers, but there is nothing interesting about their ferocity, and the unreality makes you long for genre forerunner Cannibal Holocaust‘s stage blood and actual violence. The fact that it’s from Norway alone doesn’t make Trollhunter novel.

Opens June 10