"Trollhunter" Is Not Really About Troll Hunting

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 30, 2011

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Grade: C+

The backlash against The Blair Witch Project may have been mighty, but you wouldn’t know that given the number of films that baldly rip it off. Following in the footsteps of Diary of the Dead and Cloverfield, the mock-doc Trollhunter purports to be top secret, authentic found footage of enormous troglodytic beasties rampaging about Norway’s most scenic vistas. Not that the filmmakers are fooling anyone, or even trying. Unlike its dead serious predecessors, Trollhunter is an elaborate joke, a goof that spends a fair amount of its time rattling off loopy facts about the titular monsters. (The funniest: their literal love for Christian blood, meaning all lovers of J.C. are discouraged from joining the trip. At one point a character lures a troll by blasting religious music.)

Alas, only a small amount of screentime has been earmarked for its digital creations, which look not like the dwarfish freaks from Troll (or for that matter, the green goblins of Troll 2) but rather crinkled, hairy old men that could have been designed by Jim Henson. Most of Trollhunter features not troll hunting but hanging with the humans, namely a trio of students seeking to make a film about a wave of mysterious bear poaches. Instead they find Hans (Otto Jespersen), a grizzled badass whose job is to ensure the nation’s bevy of enormous trolls remain within a certain perameter and if need be slay them with bright lights.

The joke is that this is very boring business, a tedious job that involves a lot of aimless driving around and bureaucracy; the killing of a troll is chased with the filling out of a “Slayed Troll Form.” Of course, the inevitable by-product of a film about the boredom of a supposedly exciting premise is, well, a good deal of actual boredom. Viewers are rewarded the odd shaky cam “action scene,” sometimes filmed in puke green night vision, but also scores and scores of views of the Norweigan backwoods. And despite Jespersen’s winningly grumpy turn and the occasional nutty troll factoid, there’s not enough wit to spread around, suggesting this would have functioned best as a short on Funny or Die.

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