Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Trolljegeren (The Troll Hunter)

I've recently been privy to certain pirating websites due to the lack of anything at all because the UK would ban reading if they could and came across Redbeard The Troll Hunter by accident. As you may know, I found out about Troll Hunter a few months back, never expecting to see it but thinking it looked ridiculously entertaining. A very happy accident, as it turns out, because it was phenomenal.
The Troll Hunter is Norway’s long awaited response (heh) to the fresh as spring flowers shaky-cam genre, ie, Blair Witch Project and, fittingly, Cloverfield. It tells the story of three Norwegian film students (…but I hate Norwegian film students…) following around a trolljegeren- troll hunter- documenting his exploits as they trek through northern Norway looking for- shocker- trolls.
They use the old ‘the state has kept them a secret’ gag. Not like they would need to, because who does anything in Norway anymore. Too mainstream. [adjusts glasses]
The troll hunter they follow around lets them film the trolls because he wants people to know of their existence on account of he hates his job.
The premise is quaint enough- it’s pretty hard to say ‘no’ to a guy pitching a movie about following around trolls, but the main strength of the movie is not the plot. The plot is there because it needs to be, kind of like how if you look at the story arc of Cloverfield it literally makes no sense. [runs over Cloverfield DVD with a steamroller]
But where the movie succeeds it flourishes. The first thing that really got me hooked was the setting itself. Norway looks fucking awesome. And it isn’t like there are some good establishing shots of an open field with maybe a mountain and the rest is night vision in the woods- they go through like 4 completely different terrains. The locations change with the story, and the movie squeezes every last drop of Norway out of Norway. It’s basically Lord of the Rings done all handheld (but without dollys or fancy mirrors or whatever those whippersnappers used to make the movie look all newfangled). Don’t get me wrong, by the by, the night vision scene is awesome. Night vision + trolls= nerd boner.
I initially had some trouble figuring out the exact tone of the movie, though. It’s not funny or scary enough to be a dark comedy and I feel like they didn’t have a tone in mind when they were doing this movie. Overall it’s very suspenseful, and the idea of people going troll hunting in Norway gives the film just the right amount of wit. In the end I finished the movie in a very peppy humor.
Speaking of wit, one of the best aspects of the movie is Otto Jesperson- the troll hunter. This guy is really, really good.
So good that I in fact wikipedia’d him, and found out some interesting facts. Jesperson is a card carrying socialist who lives in Norway as a radio personality and comedian. He is also one of the most hated people in the country, at least by the government, because of the cracks he makes at Norways PM (who is probably a bear).
His performance is absolutely delightful and makes the movie what it is. The film students keep telling him how exciting his job sounds and he acts like he’s a garbage man. He just has this way about him that makes everything he does awesome.
The visuals in the movie are great, too. The trolls look a little weird/cartoonish, but there are some seriously badass troll-fighting sequences. And the whole night vision scene is, I’ll say it again, really well done and really suspenseful. The production value of the whole thing looks absolutely insane, made even more satisfying due to the fact that this is still a hugely underground movie [puts on hipster hat]. Don’t worry, though, because I have a feeling that it’s going to explode sometime soon.

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