[TROLL HUNTER opens in Cleveland on Friday July 15th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre for a one week run.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
TROLL HUNTER is the latest film to use the “found footage” gimmick ala THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. With its reasonably professional looking cinematography (i.e. the person holding the camera knows how to keep it level, in focus, and pointed at something pertinent) TROLL HUNTER belongs more in the mockumentary/footage shot by a TV news crew subset of the genre that includes THE LAST EXORCISM, REC and its American remake QUARANTINE, and George Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD. Yes, there's been a lot of these things in the last few years, but there's always room for one more provided it's a good one. TROLL HUNTER doesn't quite hit the mark, but it does get an A for effort.
The basic premise is that Norway is home to several different species of troll. These creatures are just as ugly and dangerous as their counterparts in folklore, and even dumber. For the most part the TSS (Troll Security Service) is able to keep the creatures contained to territories where they don't pose a threat to humans, while at the same time keeping their existence secret from the public. Occasionally, though, a troll will go rogue, and that's when Hans (Otto Jespersen) gets called in.
A group of students doing a documentary on bear hunters keep hearing complaints from the hunters about a poacher, who turns out to be Hans. Of course Hans is hunting much bigger game, but the bear hunters don't know that. Intrigued by Hans, Finn (Hans Morten Hansen) decides he needs to interview the alleged poacher. Eventually he and his crew of sound recordist Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and mostly unseen cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) persuade Hans, who has grown weary of his job, to reveal his secrets.
That's when the fun begins, as the initially skeptical film crew soon learns that trolls are no laughing matter. There are some tense moments in the film to be sure, but the tone is more dark fantasy than outright horror. The trolls, which have a delightfully handmade look to them, aren't really evil. They're just big dumb brutes who will, under the right set of circumstances, kill a farm animal or even a human. At times Hans even expresses sympathy for the way the trolls are treated under the government's policies. But he also recognizes these are dangerous creatures, and like the bears, their population needs to be managed.
It's a clever idea, but there's not enough meat here to justify the hour and 45 minute running time. It would have worked far better as an episode of some TV anthology series like Masters of Horror. On top of the length issue, the relatively blasé attitude the characters take towards the death of one of their number feels wrong, a plot point about one character contracting a disease never really pays off, and the ending feels kind of flat. Despite these issues, I'd still recommend TROLL HUNTER to horror and fantasy fans looking for something sincere and different. Just keep your expectations in check. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.