Directed by André Øvredal
Available Now on DVD
The filmmakers are Thomas, Kalle and Johanna, but their names are irrelevant as none of them get any character development whatsoever. Not even your typical horror movie “jock, hot chick, dumb guy” type of development. We literally learn nothing about these characters and oddly, they don’t seem to progress as characters either. When one of the characters dies (spoiler I know, but I won’t tell you which one!) they are replaced by another character with even less development and nobody even seems to blink that one of their comrades was just eaten by a troll. This is one of the many glaring flaws with this film.
As it turns out the “poacher” is not killing bears at all and rather, he’s out hunting trolls. Our plucky college crew find this out after stalking him for a few nights. From there we’re treated to an assortment of troll hunts as Hans (the hunter) decides to expose the secret of the government’s cover-up of trolls, all the while killing rogue trolls.
Hans is actually quite interesting and when the film focuses on the documentary aspects, it’s actually rather engaging. Watching Hans go through the motions of all the danger and bureaucracy involved in troll hunting is sort of fascinating. Learning about how trolls are dumb and eat rocks and tires or how they develop extra heads is crudely exploitive in the way good documentaries are. We even meet someone who might be Han’s girlfriend. The movie is surprisingly well crafted in these portions and it’s almost good enough to overlook the inane nature of the rest of the film. Perhaps if we never actually saw the trolls and this was a mock documentary asking if this guy was crazy or not, it would work.
Unfortunately the trolls have to show up and they do quite a bit. These are Norwegian folklore trolls, I guess and unlike the cool little title character in Troll or the goblins from Nilbog in Troll 2, they are more like giants than your “traditional” movie troll. Big lumbering giants, who can only come out at night and apparently hide during the day… Although this isn’t explained much.
The trolls have several issues, from mid-grade CGI to the fact that they look somewhere between a Jim Henson design and Gargamel. They really aren’t scary in the least. Some may argue that they’re not supposed to be, but then I can’t fathom what the purpose of trying to make them so dangerous throughout the movie. The trolls here look no scarier than the trolls in Ernest Scared Stupid, and actually I think they may have stolen a few designs from the Ernest film. There are a few remotely funny lines in the movie, but it never plays it like a comedy.
Eventually there is a final confrontation with the biggest of the trolls. There’s quite a bit of build up to this, but unfortunately like every other troll encounter, there is no tension, no drama and no real consequences for any of the characters. You’d think introducing a King Kong sized troll might have some added tension, but it doesn’t. Sure somebody does die at one point in the film, but as I mentioned before, it has no effect on the characters or the story.
The movie more or less just ends, with no real explanation as to what happened to the characters. We’re vaguely led to believe that they were taken away by the government, but that begs the question why the hell this video footage is now available? I had heard through the grapevine that Troll Hunter was good and I was hoping this would be like The Host or Dead Snow and have some fun, fresh takes on a genre. Instead it’s a movie that’s not scary, funny or inspiring.
It’s not a horrible movie, I watched it and never felt like “man I need to turn this off” but it lacks any real B-movie charm, blockbuster appeal or plot development in general. This is better than most anything the SyFy channel makes, but I can’t in good faith recommend spending money to rent it, like I did. Hans is interesting, but that’s not enough to make it a good movie. Skip it.