IPMM @ Tribeca Film Festival – The Troll Hunter
Words by Matthew Schuchman
Quick, what did you hate the most about “The Blair Witch Project, ” “Cloverfield, ” and “Monsters?” Is it that you never really get a good look at the creatures? Just because you don’t get to really see a creature doesn’t make a creature-centric movie bad, but this film is considerably better because you DO get such a great look at these beasts. And thus, IPMM welcomes you to “The Troll Hunter” (Trolljegeren).
Brought to you by the geniuses at Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing (the wonderful people that have also brought you “Rubber” and “Hobo With A Shotgun”) “The Troll Hunter” is the feature film debut from famous Norwegian commercial director, André Øvredal. The film is about three college students who follow a man believed to be a bear poacher, simply wanting an interview. When the students follow the man into the woods late at night, they realize something else is going on. Bright lights flash deep in the forest. Suddenly the man they have been following comes running out of the brush and screaming at the students, “TROLLLLL!”
Played by the famous Norwegian comic, Otto Jesperen, Hans the troll hunter decides that because his benefits are so poor and he is treated terribly by his employer, he will let these students follow him and film his exploits, finally bringing the Norwegian “troll problem” to light.
As the troll hunter, Jesperson is amazingly gruff, stoic and understated in the role. I’m personally unfamiliar with his work but automatically could imagine no one better to play the part. His nonchalant approach to his job and underlying sarcastic wit make for the perfect mix of someone you could love, but that you’re still uneasy about the whole way through. The team of students joining him are basically made up of unknowns and are lead by Thomas, played by Glenn Erland Tosterud, who also does a fantastic job of keeping the audience interested in watching the movie, even when there isn’t a huge troll terrorizing the screen.
The film was shot amidst the sprawling beauty of the Norwegian landscapes, making the atmosphere and locations practically a character in the film. For those of us who have never been to these locations it invokes the same kinds of feelings a lot of people probably had about New Zealand after seeing a “Lord of the Rings” movie. But for each breathtaking shot of a Norwegian forest or mountainside, the audience is treated to more than just a blurring vision of a sky-scraper sized troll jetting past the screen – you get a great long look at these bad boys, front and center. And for good measure, each troll hunt results in a different type of troll, even one with multiple heads.
The most surprising thing about “The Troll Hunter” is that it was made using a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” style of improv. There was a script written, but the actors were told NOT to use any original dialogue, and were just given a situation to act out. This is a tough job for a lot of actors but I imagine even a tougher feat for actors having to react to large trolls. The film does a bang-up job of being funny, but not because of its subject matter, but due to well-timed and well-delivered jokes, some vocal and some sight gags.
Particular audiences may be lost on some of the troll lore that originates in Norway, and may be familiar only to those who grew up hearing the fairy tales. Nonetheless, “The Troll Hunter” keeps the viewer engaged at all times and after one troll hunt is done, you’ll be itching for the next one.