Friday, June 10, 2011

"TrollHunter" works as fun, weird found-footage

TrollHunter (2011)
99 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: B - 

Norway might be a little late in jumping on the found-footage mockumentary bandwagon after all the cool kids (1999's "The Blair Witch Project" and 2008's "Cloverfield") did it. A minor work next to the legendary Maryland witch and Manhattan-destroying alien's movies, but mainly because of its Norwegian locale, troll mythos, and positively nifty, clay-like CGI effects, "TrollHunter" has a low-budget charm. 

In this Norwegian horror-adventure indie, three amateur filmmakers follow poacher Hans (Norwegian comedian Otto Jespersen), rumored to be a troll hunter. He's no registered bear hunter, and yet animal tracks start appearing that can't belong to a bear. Hans rejects answering their questions, but these college students don't give up so easily ("Do you think Michael Moore gave up after his first attempt?"). Once the crew stumbles into the dark woods while spying on Hans' nighttime activities, he runs towards them screaming "Troll!" and the crew gets caught in the danger of their incredible find. 

Writer-director André Øvredal has a few homages to "Jurassic Park" during the troll encounters in night vision and a goat (actually three) used as bait. The movie has clever touches, like the trolls sniffing out Christians ("I was in the YMCA."), the different types of trolls, and their Kryptonite being ultraviolet light, causing them to turn to stone or explode. 

"TrollHunter" isn't outright scary, but it sure is fun and goofy combining what's-out-there tension with deadpan humor into the vérité-style visual template. The filmmaker characters—given names but little personality—serve their purpose, as we encounter and learn about these trolls along with them, but when the trolls and Jespersen (our great tram-car ride guide) aren't present, the movie bides its time. "TrollHunter" ends as an anticlimax, and we get the standard disclaimer that "the filmmakers vanished without a trace," but until then, it's a good time. 

No trolls were harmed during the making of this movie.

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