Friday, September 30, 2011

They're Not Just Under The Bridge Anymore

Director: André Øvredal
Writers: André Øvredal, Håvard S. Johansen
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck
2010 | Norway | PG-13 | 103 mins

The Blair Witch Project opened the floodgates to the found footage film, for better or worse. Most of these films utilize this view point for nothing more than cheap jump scares, avoiding any real plot or motive other than to scare you with a loud noise or quick frantic glimpse of some unknown terror. The Paranormal Activity franchise being notorious for this. But here comes a film from Norway which takes you into a fairy tale world come alive and just might let you enjoy the time spent viewing this found footage while providing some cleverly placed thrills. 

Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck), and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) are three students from Volda College who are out doing some investigative journalism into what a series of bear killings and bear poachers. Their main target is Hans (Otto Jespersen), a mysterious hunter whom only seems to go out during the night. Curiously he always ends up leaving an area as soon as a new dead bear is discovered by the local population. Upon secretly following him into a mine blasting site they are confronted by Hans, whom agrees to let them film him as he wants to expose his actual job, much to the disbelief of the students, that he is a troll hunter. 

TrollHunter features the talents of some amazing CGI artists who blend the "reality" of the footage with the enormous, hideous looking trolls. Each type is distinctive and believable, and the attention is payed to making them part of the environment rather than the show-horse. The cast are all quite charming and at times realistically annoying. Jespersen's Hans is just like the trolls he hunts; lumbering around trying to survive yet escape the confinements of his world which he is growing tired of. André Øvredal knows that less is more, and always chooses the right moments to showcase the action and horror, and keeps things moving along despite that it takes some time to get into the world of the trolls. 

There are no cheap jump scares, the action is concise and thrilling, and it avoids going for violence over suspense. While the film loses some steam half way through, gets a bit talky, and doesn't end in the most satisfactory of terms (unfortunately, an all too common problem of the found footage genre), André Øvredal and crew still manage to bring a spectacle to life and prove that CGI can be used in a manner that becomes part of the story rather than taking you out of it. TrollHunter is, overall, light and entertaining fun. 

All contents copyright 2011 Tyler Baptist

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