Plot: Three Norwegian students are investigating suspicious bear killings when they begin to shadow the movements of a mysterious ‘hunter’. They soon learn that he is no mere tracker and his quarry is far more dangerous than typical wilderness creatures.
Rock and Troll!
Trolls only exist in fairy tales, right? Think again!
Troll Hunter begins with the inevitable ‘real’ video footage testimony, whilst as ever trying to create a sense of realism, dissatisfies slightly these days after now having over two decades of the supposed steady cam genre, pioneered by ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and carried on by ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘REC’. ‘Troll Hunter’ has no need to sell itself this way as we all know what’s in store. Happily, this is only a small gripe as ‘Troll Hunter’ is an enjoyable monster ride.
The hunt begins while three students are investigating suspicious bear killings in the cold and bleak, yet beautiful Norwegian wilderness. They begin to monitor the movements of a locally known caravan dwelling hunter, whose initial dismissals do nothing to deter the naive students from their curiosity, but we all know what curiosity did. Sheer persistence leads them into the wilderness where the ‘hunter’s’ real prey is stunningly revealed.
We soon realise that there are more to trolls than just what we believe from ‘fairy tales’ and here begins a tremendously fun and stunning troll hunt which leads us into some terrific and sometimes terrifying encounters.
The trolls are fantastically brought to life with seamless CG, terrific sound and superb creature design, splendidly giving these predators their own characteristics and features with more realism than the lesser garden varieties seen in LOTR and Harry Potter.
It is the unique design that gives real belief in these creatures which is later supported with a believable scientific insight that trolls are more than mere creatures but are a vulnerable living species that “eat, s**t and mate”.
It is the lone ‘troll hunter’ whose job it is to control their movements; possibly for their own good, not just ours.
It’s our hunter – ‘Hans’ who provides the gripping and often hilarious insights into the variety, behaviour and long history of trolls and is more than just the stereotypical veteran, his vague back story provides a past glimpse of his suitability as “someone who could” hunt trolls and a remorseful history that suggests he is not just a brutal slayer. This guy lives and breathes his work but is also just a frustrated ‘employee’, having his own axe to grind which self-justifies his agreement to allow his role responsibilities to be recorded.
The Norwegian Landscapes look beautiful and may well turn out to be next on your list of holiday destinations. Bleak, haunting and open snowy backdrops provide tremendous scale for our troll battlefields.
The students are realistic, more believable and likeable than the polished protagonists of ‘Cloverfield’, marching on with a charming adventurous spirit, buoyed by the euphoria and realisation from their first troll pursuit, which is then slowly eroded away by each sapping troll encounter, but it is Hans who is the true human star of the show.
A fantastic climactic pursuit echoes the rear view mirror perspective of the iconic T-Rex assault of ‘Jurassic Park’ and so comparisons with other monster mashes are inevitable, but Troll hunter manages to feel more unique, striving for a more believable tone, putting meat on the bones of troll fables; they have always existed in the real world, in many unique forms and are nothing like the unknown other world invaders we have seen before.
‘Troll Hunter’ masterfully brings the troll myth to life with some stunning set piece action and amazingly unique creature design, and is a believable monster ride that may also do wonders for Norwegian tourism. Just don’t book any place near to massive electricity pylons – you may get more from your holiday than just a dodgy T-Shirt!
Having watched the Blair witch project at its original release in 1999 my memories of this movie were somewhat diminished. I did remember the stirring, chilling end but I wasn’t certain that its pioneering first person perspective approach would hold up to its recent and terrifying successors like the excellent paranormal activity and REC/quarantine.
So I was pleased and scared equally when I revisited the movie last Halloween weekend.
The film is still as chilling as ever and the even more disturbing mythology of the legend connected perfectly with the finale added an even greater depth on re-viewing.
The film works on so many terrifying levels, the deterioration of youthful enthusiasm for a passion for film making from the movies characters, the feeling of isolation and panic of being lost. Paranoia, hunger, cold, wet and tiredness all hallmarks of the camping trip from hell; compounded by the tease and horror of an unknown hunter. These people are not wanted here and do not want to be here, the feeling of impending definite peril is the most powerful device which still holds the film on a par and above most of it more recent comparable efforts. Probably still the original and best.