Mid-20s Malaise

Struggling against the inevitable since 1986!

Film: The Troll Hunter

Last week, as part of the Sydney Film Festival, I went to see The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren in its original Norwegian iteration). I’ve not been this excited about a film since Let The Right One In was screened at the festival in 2008. Like Let The Right One In (Sweden) and Rare Exports (Finland) did with vampires and Santa Claus respectively, The Troll Hunter (Norway) puts an interesting spin on a creature of legend – in this case, the titular troll.

A group of three documentary students follow a man who they believe to be a bear poacher, only to discover he is a hunter of the mythical trolls, operating in a secret government department. The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to create a solid science behind these trolls: there are many different specials of trolls, and the film is littered with tidbits about their eating habits (mainly rocks), gestation periods (ten years) and extra heads (eyeless and brainless, grown for ornamental purposes like a peacock’s feathers). In this sense, it reminded me of a wonderful book about gnomes I had as a child, which treated them as a real species and provided extensive anthropological-style information about them.

What surprised me most was the humour in the film. There were many tense moments when I hid behind my hands, but just as many scenes which had the audience laughing out loud. For example, in one scene, the hunter uses three goats on a bridge as bait for a troll (a clear visual joke about the story of the billy goats gruff). The three documentary students are also likeable and funny, teasing each other and mugging for the camera. (Speaking of which, the movie is shot on handheld camera. However, it’s rarely jerky like Cloverfield – the characters are documentary students, so there’s some semblance of professionalism.)

Special effects are used sparingly. They’re sometimes a bit dodgy, but they’re used to good effect. We rarely see the trolls up close, so they remain strange creatures at the edge of our imagination. Besides, special effects will always take a back seat to the Norwegian scenery. The travelling scenes reminded me of my bus trip from Rygge airport to Oslo – a good two hours – which went through the most stunning landscape of mountains and forests. I remember clearly coming down a mountain to a small town, and I very nearly got off there to spend a day wandering around to see what happened. The scenic shots evoked this for me, and Norway’s beauty bought a lump of longing to my throat several times.

See this film if you get a chance. It’s not without its faults, but its exciting, beautiful and charming. A Hollywood remake was announced the day the film was released in North America. I foresee a Let The Right One In/Let Me In outcome: a functional, enjoyable film that nevertheless lacks some of the dark, mystical awe that Scandinavia seems to produce in bulk.

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Filed under: film

2 Responses

  1. Iason says:

    Well some of us just stick to strawberry blond mystical awe.
    Also: yay, more film reviews!

  2. NICK says:

    Totally want to see this. Rare Exports was a friggin’ treat, right?

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