What hasn’t been done? We have films and tv shows galore about vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, and all other manner of shape-shifting beasts. Anything missing? What about trolls?
Done. Norwegian-made festival favorite “Trollhunter,” which enjoyed good reception at both Sundance and Tribeca this year, is—I can safely say—the definitive creature feature about trolls. And to the delight of monster fans everywhere, I can also happily report it’s actually a darn good film.
Director Andre Ovredal’s second feature follows a group of college students who set out to find a legendary, mysterious bear hunter and figure out what he’s up to. When they catch up with the archetypal mountain man (a perfectly cast Otto Jespersen), they discover he’s not after bears at all; he’s a government employee in the super-secret Troll Security Service whose job is to keep tabs on, and sometimes kill, gigantic trolls.
Cue the special effects, which are perfectly serviceable even though they occasionally border on the cartoonish. But as the film progresses, things get more intriguing and scary; we learn there are several different types of trolls, some more violent than others, and that the Norwegian government is involved in a decades-old cover up of the troll population.
Conspiracy theory plus giant beasts equals pretty good fun in my book. This film is fast, trepidates with action beats and is enjoyable to watch. Its relatively shallow characters don’t prevent it at all from being totally absorbing—in fact, there’s a cut-to-the-chase feeling especially in the beginning that really pulls you in. No time is wasted in establishing who everyone is—the premise is set up, and then it’s off into the dark, windy Norwegian woods.
If “Trollhunter” has a weakness, it’s that it relies too much on the passé schtick of being found footage, shot by the college students before they vanish after a final, epic troll confrontation. But even this nod to convention isn’t enough to suppress the film’s essential merriment—after all, they’ve got freaking trolls to deal with. How awesome is that?