If you read my review of Chronicle a few months back you’ll probably have got the idea that I often find ‘found footage’ movies somewhat distracting and, even at their best, they usually have some moments which take me out of the action and question why the camera is still rolling.
Despite a few moments near the beginning, once the main plot of Troll Hunter was running, it actually handled this very well, certainly better than Chronicle, and I was swept up into the story of a group of students following a man who hunts trolls for a living.
While the story isn’t the film’s best element, it probably comes a close second, especially for anyone with a passing interest in folklore, as it combines elements familiar to Norse mythology and general Nordic folklore, specifically relating to trolls but also modifying the deeper mythology of Asgard et al, in the depiction of the trolls.
While, thankfully, we never really get any scenes of obvious exposition which jar with the rest of the film thanks to the clever trick of our protagonists being just as new to trolls as we are, we get a fairly deep understanding of the nature of trolls from Hans the troll hunter as he explains to Thomas, Kalle and Johanna the different sorts of trolls, their lifecycles and biology.
It’s from this we get a few of the films most ingenious uses of folklore as Hans asks the filmmakers if any of them are Christian and, when they encounter a Muslim, Hans’ reaction is “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens” which serves to bring the traditional into the modern world brilliantly while keeping up the classic notion of Norse mythology standing up to the Middle Eastern mythologies more commonly termed ‘religion’ today.
One thing that very much surprised me about Troll Hunter was that, unlike most other ‘found footage’ or lower budget monster movies, it doesn’t hold off on showing us its titular monster.
Across the film we see a few different ‘species’ of troll and all are excellent designed to include elements from classic tales to children’s toys and adding something new from the filmmakers imaginations – the highlight of this comes, expectedly, in the movie’s climax, but I won’t spoil to much of that for you here.
With ‘monster movies’ being something of a less popular genre these days as, often, even things that start out like monster movies become action adventure spectacles as they develop, it is nice to see a film like Troll Hunter which combines elements of classic and folkloric story, with modern cinematic tropes, to create something comparatively fresh backed up by some great ‘monster’ design work which is a necessity to make a film like this work and, while it is far from the most taxing movie thematically speaking, it’s a great way to spend an hour and a half or so.