This review is part of the Around the World in May-ty Days challenge that Cinefessions is taking part in throughout the month of May. The challenge originated on Letterboxd thanks to a user named Berken. Find out more, including how to follow along, via this list on Letterboxd.
I make no qualms about enjoying the hell out of a good found footage movie. I started loving the subgenre with the release of The Blair Witch Project when I was much younger, and the Paranormal Activity sequels of recent years (not the original, mind you) have cemented the fact that I simply like these types of films. Are there problems with these movies? Of course there are – namely, justification – but I am willing to suspend disbelief if the story is interesting and engaging.
Troll Hunter more than fits that bill, and is one of the finest found footage movies I’ve seen since my introduction to the genre in 1999.
The Norwegian film follows a group of students who start out believing that they are hot on the heels of the country’s most notorious bear poacher. The three students follow deaths of bears, interview professionals and get fed stories by the wildlife patrolman. As the trio gets closer to the poacher in question, they start to follow him late at night as he routinely disappears from his trailer. What they discover is that this “poacher” is actually a hunter, but bears are not his area of expertise. Instead, he hunts gigantic, ugly, deadly trolls for the government.
The setup for Troll Hunter works exceptionally well. The build to the introduction of the first troll is paced just as it should be. The viewer never gets bored waiting for something good to happen, but when the first troll steps onscreen, the viewer believes that this creature can really exist in the world of this film. The incredible CGI effects for the trolls allows the viewer to give in that much more easily.
As for the question of justification for continuing filming throughout these crazy events, Troll Hunter has no problems. These are students trying to film a short documentary, so they would want every bit of this on film so that they can make what might be the most important documentary the world has ever seen.
What makes Troll Hunter so special, though, has to be the little details that it gets right. At one point, a fourth film crew member is introduced. This character is a second camera person. What I loved about this is that there is a notably different cinematographic approach with this second camera person than the first one. It helps to keep the found footage interesting throughout the movie.
The main characters are all likable, funny, and realistic actors that bring life to these fantastical moments. Otto Jespersen, who plays Hans, the Troll Hunter himself, is exactly the type of person one would expect a man of this nature to be: he is rough, kind, intelligent, and brave. Jespersen does a magnificent job playing such a bizarre character.
Troll Hunter is an absolutely fun movie. It is tense, funny, and larger than life, which is quite an accomplishment for a found footage film. If you missed this one when it was popular a couple years back, definitely give it a go. You won’t soon forget Troll Hunter.