Enter The Troll Hunter, a Norwegian found-footage fantasy/horror film which seems to have been getting quite a bit of attention since it's DVD release. I decided to see what the fuss was about, and sat down with it yesterday evening. Firstly, whenever I sit down to watch a found-footage style film, my first thought is one of trepidation: "Oh God, not another one." This is a somewhat unreasonable reaction on my part, as there are definitely good ones out there. It would be stretching it to say that for every Paranormal Activity that's pumped out there's a The Last Exorcism, but it's certainly possible to do a very good film like this. The problem, I think, is the more recent deluge of sub-standard offerings (thank you very much The Blair Witch Project).
Gratifying, The Troll Hunter belongs to the "good" camp.
The film sets a group of college students and wannabe documentary film-makers in Norway, following a man who they initially believe is a poacher, but soon discover is a government-paid troll hunter. Yes, it sounds sort of mad (and it is), and conjures hilarious images of conservative politicians railing against taxpayers money wasted on trolls, but I promise you it works.
The students follow the hunter, who is obviously somewhat apathetic about his job, and film him hunting and killing a variety of breeds of troll. The thrust of the plot is that the trolls are acting out of character, but really it works as a fantastical wildlife documentary.
The main coup The Troll Hunter manages is the believability. The idea of trolls running around the Norwegian countryside and the government keeping it a secret is, on the face of it, stretching credibility. But they manage it, with much careful attention.
The characters have the feel of enthusiastic students, somewhat naive yet delighted to have stumbled on something so big. The production values are realistically low throughout, but without the nauseating camera-swinging of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, and with night-time scenes that don't turn into the disorientating flicker-fest of The Descent. Added to this the subtle use of visual effects for the trolls, and you're onto a winner.
The ending is a little on the confused side, but I think that's always likely to be a problem with found-footage. You know, deep down, that it won't end well for the protagonists, so it's a matter of working up to that ending, but it gets a bit rushed and hectic.
Still, all in all it's a good film. It kept me watching, and it goes without saying that the Norwegian countryside is beautiful. It isn't going to change the world, but it's a very good watch, and if the big film studios are going to keep making found-footage films (and I think we all know they are...) then they should watch The Troll Hunter very carefully and take note.