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A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.
For more about TrollHunter and the TrollHunter Blu-ray release, see TrollHunter Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Urmila Berg-Domaas
Director: André Øvredal
» See full cast & crew
TrollHunter Blu-ray Review
No, it’s not about a moderator who bans forum flame-war initiators.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 19, 2011
America is too young and was born too close to the Industrial Revolution to have developed a system of folklore—science and technology have a natural tendency to squelch superstition—so, in a way, I'm always slightly jealous of cultures that have kickass living myths and legends. Case in point: Scandinavia, where pagan tales of trolls and giants have survived the medieval influx of Christianity and, later, the takeover of technological progress and reason. There's still a reverence for the lore, and maybe even some small pockets of genuine belief. In 2009, a Vanity Fair article on Iceland's economic collapse reported on the Alcoa aluminum company's difficulties in erecting a new plant: "Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it." I want that job. There have even been incidences of highways being diverted around huge outcroppings of rock so as not to disturb the trolls potentially slumbering there in disguise. Fiscally irresponsible? Sure. Irrational? Absolutely. Still kind of cool? Hell yes. Troll Hunter, an amusing new mockumentary from Norway, takes this one step further and asserts that the smelly, lumbering giants really do exist out in the country's unpopulated wilds.
Think The Blair Witch Project meets Cloverfield meets Norse myth, but semi-comic, with an equal mix of ultra-dry humor and scares. After a text prologue about how the found footage we're about to see isn't a hoax, Troll Hunter opens with a group of Michael Moore-wannabe college kids—lead reporter Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), sound engineer Johanna (Johanna Mørck), and unseen cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen)—heading out into the Norwegian wilderness to make a documentary about a rash of supposed bear attacks. Tracking down a lead about a vigilante hunter who's been killing the beasts, the students find the alleged poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen), a bearded mountainman, in a decrepit, disgusting-smelling motor-home, pulled by a Range Rover covered in conspicuous scratch marks. He refuses to grant them an interview, but they follow him around the countryside anyway—on ferries, over mountain passes, and through some unbelievably gorgeous scenery —until they track him into a dark forest in hopes of getting footage of the bear-killer in action. Instead, they capture Hans running out of the woods yelling "TROLL!" as some thing crashes after them and bites Thomas on the shoulder. As it turns out, Hans is the titular Troll Hunter, employed by the super-secret TSS—the Troll Security Service—and responsible for killing any of the shaggy giants who venture outside of their established territories. It's a lonely life, and Hans is frankly sick of it, so he invites the students to film his exploits so they might bring knowledge of the existence of trolls to the masses.
Hans is a great character. He's a bit like Quint from Jaws, a grizzled old bastard who's seen his share of action and has the battle scars to prove it. Jespersen, a well-known and somewhat controversial Norwegian comedian, plays him wryly, with a look in his eye that's not quite a twinkle, but enough of a gleam to know that he's not being completely serious. And that's a quality that carries throughout the entire film. Troll Hunter could've easily been either an outright comedy—a satire of the "found footage" subgenre—or an attempt at a pants-soiling horror experience, but writer/director André Øvredal keeps it somewhere in the middle. And while I can see how some might be turned off by this seemingly lukewarm, non-committal tone, I think it works—mostly—especially considering the movie's relatively small budget compared to, say, Cloverfield. If Troll Hunter had been entirely straight-faced, audiences would probably laugh at the less-than-convincing CGI trolls. Instead, we're in on the joke—the film has a few moments that are genuinely creepy, but there's no disbelief to suspend because the movie never really tries to be believable in the first place. It is absorbing, though, once you get through the slow first act, which has too much repetitive footage of the cameraman pointing his lens out the car window, even if the views are nearly always stunning. One wonders if the Norwegian tourist board paid for these sequences.
The best thing about the film is how gleefully it evokes and expands upon the established troll lore. Hans gives frequent expository monologues about the varieties of trolls—the frumpy Ringlefinch, the three-headed Tosserlad, the phallic-nosed Mountain Kings, etc.—and although this might sound dull on paper, his arcane knowledge makes the film's universe that much more rich. We learn—and, eventually, see—how trolls, remnants of the pagan days of yore, can sniff out Christians, requiring believers to cover themselves in "concentrated troll stench" to mask their smell. (There's a funny moment where Hans is forced to admit that he doesn't know whether trolls can also smell Muslims. "Well, we'll find out," he says to a worried Islamic student who joins their crew midway through the film.) We get a semi-scientific reason for why trolls either explode or turn to stone in sunlight—it involves vitamin D and rapid, out of control calcification—and get a first-hand demonstration of how they can't resist a Three Billy Goats Gruff-style scenario. (They also love to eat charcoal and concrete, and they absolutely hate the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus.")
Hans goes around with a kind of UV-ray-shooting light gun that turns the trolls to solid rock—yes, pretty badass—but we also see the tedium of his job, chiseling the troll-shaped stones with a jackhammer to make them unrecognizable and filling out endless forms for each giant that he kills. We can understand why he wants to get out of the game; here he is, an unrecognized national hero, protecting the populace but buried in red tape. Of course, once the TSS find out about the film crew they come to confiscate the footage, and this leads to an abrupt ending that would be unsatisfying if not for the epically awesome troll fight that comes immediately before. Imagine squaring off against a towering, 200-foot-tall, 1,200-year-old behemoth, mano-a-mano. Now that's the stuff of legend.
TrollHunter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Troll Hunter is supposed to look like footage a bunch of college kids shot out in the middle of nowhere on a prosumer digital camera, so this probably isn't going to be the sharpest, cleanest, most colorful Blu-ray you've set your eyes on this year. That said, the film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer looks faithful; any issues here can stem back to way the film was shot. The most noticeable trait is that noise levels spike pretty drastically during all of the dark, nighttime exterior scenes, although this overly gritty look is to be expected. The scenes shot in daylight or bright interiors, however, look excellent, with nearly no noise at all. You can break down every attribute of the picture quality this way: Black levels? A bit crushing in the dark but spot-on during the day. Color? A little weak at night but strong and saturated—and realistic looking—out in the sun. Sharpness? Has a tendency to go slightly soft in the hectic nighttime troll hunts, but is very revealing during the day, exhibiting fine facial and clothing textures. Etc. I think the image looks wonderful considering what it's supposed to look like, so there are no real problems here. I'm certain the Blu-ray edition bests the DVD in every way.
TrollHunter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Going along with the whole "found footage" aesthetic, you wouldn't expect the film's Norwegian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track to be particularly immersive or involving; after all, the audio was supposedly recorded with a single sound engineer holding a shotgun mic. But this is another instance where the movie throws strict realism to the wind and indulges in some sound design that just wouldn't be possible from spur-of-the-moment field recordings. And the film is better for it. The first half of Troll Hunter is fairly quiet and dialogue heavy, but as soon as the team starts to encounter the tree-snapping, rock-crushing giants, the audio kicks in wonderfully. The rear channels are used to great effect during the chase/fight/hide sequences, from the sounds of troll grunts and breathing in the rears—sneaking up or circling around you—to the crack and swish of underbrush and severed branches. You'll also hear some quiet outdoorsy ambience in several scenes. There's no score, obviously, and the film doesn't need one; it has plenty of energy and emotion on its own. Vocals are almost always clean-sounding, and the disc includes optional English, English SDH, English Narrative, and Spanish subtitles in easy-to-read lettering. There's also an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio dub, but you'll want to stay away from that.
TrollHunter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
TrollHunter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Troll Hunter is yet another entry in the now nearly exhausted shaky-cam found footage subgenre, but it's worth checking out, especially if you're into Norse folklore. (I've read that director Chris Columbus' production company has picked up the U.S. remake rights, and this sounds like a terrible idea—there simply isn't an equivalent mythology in America.) As usual, Magnolia has delivered a solid Blu-ray presentation, and there are a few fun bonus features too. Recommended.
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TrollHunter Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Neil Marshall to Direct TrollHunter Remake - September 20, 2013
Neil Marshall has agreed to direct a remake of the Norwegian fantasy horror film Trolljegeren a.k.a TrollHunter (2010). Shooting is set to begin in early 2014, but the cast for the upcoming remake is yet to be revealed.
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 23-29 - August 22, 2011
While the American idea of a troll is likely to that of a nude, pot belly doll with varying shades of neon colored hair, the true mythology of trolls comes from Scandinavia. These large, imposing creatures remain a part of that culture even today, something that ...
• Trollhunter Blu-ray - June 11, 2011
Norwegian director André Øvredal's mockumentary Trollhunter will arrive on Blu-ray this August, courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment. Already a cult success in Europe, Trollhunter made its U.S. debut to great acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The ...
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