THE TROLL HUNTER
As the title states up front, The Troll Hunter is about a man who hunts trolls. As the film started in, I was wondering where on Earth it was going with this as an idea we have a film that gives all appearance of taking itself seriously and by its very nature (the Found Footage form) is attempting to appear realistic, yet also concerns itself with something wildly fantastical like the appearance of fairytale trolls in the real world. You wonder is it maybe going to be like The Blair Witch Project, which offered up various spooky hauntings and events but kept all of them hidden and off-screen. Nevertheless, at the 27 minute, as we do get images of a troll around 50-60 feet in height rampaging through a forest and then being turned to stone by Otto Jespersen with ultraviolet lamps here the films model appears to be akin to Cloverfield and its integration of visual effects into ragged, handheld video footage. The troll itself looks ridiculous, more like a plasticine model, but on closer inspection requires some highly adept and sophisticated effects to integrate it with the filmed footage. Andre Øvredal does a fine job in directing the troll appearances there is a particularly harrowing sequence where a troll emerges onto a bridge and appears to batter Otto Jespersen to death, and a tense sequence with the giant troll attacking the jeep at the climax.
The film plays out the idea of trolls in the modern world in complete seriousness. The script is constantly toying with a sense of its own mythology and creating all manner of made-up rules about troll behaviour and methods for hunting the trolls scenes with Otto Jespersen setting bear traps with chunks of concrete and charcoal; searching local papers for clues about odd incidents that denote troll activity in the area; leaving out old tires, which the trolls regard as a delicacy; mapping the layout of rocks in an area with transparencies to tell if trolls have disturbed them. There is even a remarkable scene where veterinarian Urmila Berg-Domaas gives in perfect straight-faced a logical, scientific explanation as to why trolls turn to stone in sunlight. Things get increasingly more tongue in cheek towards the end like where the cameraman is killed because he did not admit he was a Christian and where the crew then bring in a Muslim camerawoman as replacement; and a particularly amusing climax where Otto Jespersen drives off into the snowy mountains in his Landrover playing recordings of hymns to lure the giant troll.
The Troll Hunter was a surprising word of mouth hit to the extent that it was even given a theatrical release in the US. It was only the second film from director Andre Øvredal, who had previously co-directed the psychological thriller Future Murder (2000). Øvredal subsequently went on to make the horror film The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016).