★★★ / ★★★★
Film students Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck), and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) decided to document strange bear killings in the rural areas of Norway. They found a man named Hans (Otto Jespersen) intriguing, as well as the prime suspect in illegally hunting bears, so they snooped around his mobile home and followed him into the forest. But when the trio got there, they heard a roar. Out of the darkness, Hans ran for his life. To the students’ horror, a three-headed troll was right behind him. Written and directed by André Øvredal, “TrollHunter” was an exciting, amusing, and creative adventure. Coming into the film, I knew two things about trolls: they were ugly and they weren’t friendly. I was surprised with the material’s ability in convincing us, for instance, that trolls, creatures from fairytales, were actually mammals. We had a chance to learn what they ate, their gestation period, if they were able to communicate with one another, territoriality, and even the different types of trolls–mountain trolls and woodland trolls. But the movie wasn’t just about the trolls. It was also about Hans and the way he defined his occupation. Rather, the way his occupation defined him. There were true and earned sensitive moments where he reminisced about botched jobs and considered what he would have done differently if he had known better. Looking at his lifestyle more closely, he had similarities with the trolls that he hunted: isolated from the world and feared by those who saw him at first glance. But Hans wasn’t just a contemplative loner. He had a sense of humor. When asked by the three aspiring filmmakers questions designed to poke fun of what he knew, Hans answered with dry wit and made the attempted mockery into legitimate questions. Hans was likable because of his patience and ability to surprise. We were supposed to identify with Thomas, Johanna, and Kalle. Although amusing and charismatic in their own ways, I wish they were a bit smarter. When running away from trolls, they couldn’t help but look back. The movie was supposed to be a mockumentary. If I was holding the camera and an angry troll was right behind me, presumably wanting to eat me, rest assured that I would not be looking back. The biggest question in my mind wouldn’t concern the distance between me and the troll. My main question would be whether I was the slowest person in the group. Nevertheless, I had to give the picture credit for not being afraid to be silly. It could have been a straight-faced horror film with blood and guts occupying every space and it wouldn’t have been as involving. Half the fun was discovering every nook and cranny where troll slime could be found. The trolls blended into the environment so well, there was plenty of room for surprises. “Trolljegeren,” although obviously influenced by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’ “The Blair Witch Project” with its shaky camera and wooded milieu, had original ideas of its own. As the trolls got bigger, so did its ideas.