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TROLLHUNTER (TROLLJEGEREN) (director/writer: André Øvredal; screenwriter: Håvard S. Johansen; cinematographer: Hallvard Bræin; editor: Per-Erik Eriksen; cast: Otto Jespersen (Hans), Robert Stoltenberg (Polish bear hunter),Hans Morten Hansen(Finn Haugen),Tomas Alf Larsen (Kalle), Knut Nærum (Engineer), Glenn Erland Tosterud (Thomas), Johanna Mørck(Johanna), Urmila Berg-Domaas (veterinarian); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Sveinung Golimo/John M. Jacobsen; Magnolia Pictures; 2010-Norway-in Norwegian with English subtitles)

“It never seemed more than a student film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This inane low-budget mockumentary spoofing Norwegian folklore bored me. It never seemed more than a student film, with poor production values. Its sophomoric humor failed to matriculate with me; its aim to be like “The Blair Witch Project,” with found lost footage and mock seriousness over a ridiculous situation, turned me off as old-hat. Viewing its shaky-cam shots made it a difficult watch.

Director André Øvredal(“Future Murder”)shoots it in a cinema vérité style, and cowrites it with Håvard S. Johansen.

In the opening crawl we are toldthat 283 hours of mysterious footage has been found and after extensive investigation, it is thought to be authentic.

After a number of bears are killed mysteriously, the licensed bear hunters of Norway know none of the hunters did the killing but believe a poacher is the killer of the bear. A trio of college students from the University of Volda,the nerdy interviewer Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), the more timid and rational sound recordist Johanna (Johanna Morck) and the mostly unseen cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), track down the poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen, Norse comedian), living in a peculiar smelling caravan in a trailer park. They follow him one night to a wooded field, where their van is mysteriously totaled. They get Hans to admit he’s a troll hunter and badger the gruff mystery man into allowing them to film him in action at night hunting trolls. Hans makes the students promise that none are Christians (the trolls can smell Christians from a mile away and will kill them) and that they must obey all his commands. It seems Hans is tired of working for the government and covering up that trolls sometimes get loose from the woodsy territory where they are confined by power lines and stray off the grounds to kill people. The dead bears are then placed at the crime scene and are made the scapegoats for any killings. Hans’s job is to kill the escaping trolls by using ultraviolet lamps to turn them to stone, and it’s the job of the bureaucratic TSS (Troll Security Service) man (Hans Morten Hansen) to cover up the troll tracks to make sure the population is kept in the dark about the unbelievable dangers lurking in the woods.

The makeup people create giant trolls, and the centerpiece episode of the narrative covers how the most dangerous troll is hunted down in the mountains. Trouble is the troll hunt was not that exciting.

The plot is filled with too many soft-spots to traverse without sinking into its slime, all the characters are one-dimensional and that for us to believe in trolls that live for a 1,000 years is a stretch even if we suspend our disbelief. This kind of reversed fairy-tale story is turned into a modern Hollywood monster film, one that thrives on being crude and amateurish so it could be conceived of as authentic–the trouble is that being authentic doesn’t mean it’s a good film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”