Years ago, while reading a horror movie blog, I came across a reference for today’s movie and it immediately caught my eye. I think the main thing about it was the fact that it was essentially a kaiju movie, only based in Norway. Now I for one thought that the change of scenery might be a nice change of pace while the subject matter itself could lead to a good movie. I ended up seeing it on Netflix shortly after the started streaming it and enjoyed it enough that I bought it on DVD when they stopped streaming it. So let’s enjoy today’s movie, Trollhunter.
The plot: On October 13th, 2008, a film studio received a package containing hard drives with 283 minutes of footage on them. The studio made a rough cut of the footage in chronological order and investigators spent a year trying to determine if the footage was real or not and ultimately declared it to be authentic.
Thomas, Johanna, and Kalle, three students from Volda University College, are doing a film project focused on a suspected poacher who was spotted near in the area of a bear sighting. After interviewing some licensed bear hunters, of which there are a select few, they learn the man’s name is Hans and he drives a Land Rover. Heading to the campground where Hans is staying, the manager shows them where his trailer is, saying that Hans goes out every night and never comes back before sunrise, while complaining about the stench coming from Hans’ trailer. When Hans returns the next morning, Thomas tries to interview him but Hans curtly tells him to get lost. Johanna, their sound engineer, places a microphone next to Han’s and they hear him on the phone with someone before he heads out. Thomas and the others attempt to follow him but they lose him so they head back to try and take a look in the trailer and Kalle, the cameraman, sees some furry things hanging from the ceiling and a shotgun inside. The next day, they head out to where a dead bear was spotted and interview some of the hunters, who believe the bear was planted there and the tracks were fake but Finn Haugen, head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board, says they are mistaken. When Hans leaves the campground, Thomas and the others follow after him, with Thomas attempting to question him when they are on a ferry. Hans pulls into another campground and Thomas and the others wait until he leaves that night, then follow after him. They lose sight of him in some woods but after exploring for a while, they soon find his Land Rover but no sign of Hans. Suddenly, they see some flashing lights in the distance and hear something roaring. Thomas comes running out of the woods, yelling “Troll”, and then leads them towards his Land Rover. During their running through the woods, something bit Thomas in the shoulder and Hans tends to his injury, as Kalle questions him about what he said. Hans gives them a ride back to their car only to find it has been overturned and destroyed so he drives them back to the campground. Thomas tries talking to Hans about what he said and then says he wants to film what he does and Hans agrees, provided that they do exactly what he says. The next night, Hans goes to pick them up and asks if any of them believe in God or Jesus, saying that Trolls can smell the blood of a Christian man, and Thomas, Johanna, and Kalle all say no. Returning to the woods, Hans tells them to head down to a nearby stream and scrub themselves and their clothes to remove the scent of body odor, then rub troll stench on them so that they smell like trolls. After the kids reluctantly do as he says, they head into the woods and Hans determines the type of troll he is hunting. He places a call, saying that it is a Ringlefinch and it has been chased from it’s territory, as it is marking it’s new territory, and the person on the other end asks him to try and collect a blood sample if possible. Leaving Thomas and the others in a clearing, Hans heads further into the woods to hunt the troll. As they wait for Hans to return, Thomas and the others hear something large approaching, knocking over trees as it moves. They soon see Hans running from the woods, telling them it is a Tosserlad, and they catch sight of a large 3-headed troll approaching them so they quickly run for it. They end up getting separated and Kalle uses the night vision function on his camera to see better and manages to spot Thomas and Hans, who motions them to be quiet as the Troll is close by. The troll starts sniffing and spots the three humans and gives chase and Hans yells at them to get behind his car, then Hans activates the UV lights on top of his car, turning the troll to stone. Johanna rejoins the others and they talk excitedly about what happened but Hans interrupts them, chastising them for lying and says that one of them is a Christian due to the way the troll was sniffing about. Thomas and the others insist that they aren’t and Hans gets to work on smashing the troll, then blowing it up into gravel so that no one will know trolls exist. In the morning, Thomas and the others are shocked to see Finn show up, who is not happy to see the kids filming him, followed by a van carrying a dead bear. Finn and the other men work on depositing the bear in the woods, leaving fake tracks to fool people, and after they leave, Hans shoots the bear and then they leave. As they eat breakfast, Hans explains what he knows about trolls and says that Finn wants to keep trolls a secret but Hans feels it is time for a change, especially as he is underpaid, and he agreed to let them film hoping it would get on TV and force some changes. When they ask how often trolls attack people, Hans tells them it rarely happens but something has been forcing trolls out of their normal habitats and into more populated areas recently. They return to Hans’ trailer for a minute and then head out to locate the Ringlefinch, hearing a news report about two tourists being killed by a bear as they drive along. They soon learn where the Ringlefinch might be hiding and come to a press conference Finn is having discussing a Russian bear being in the area, but when Thomas questions some of the facts he is stating, Finn looks evily at him as he leaves. That night, Hans leads some goats and sheep onto the bridge where the Ringlefinch had stored some food and then waits for it to show up. When the Ringlefinch grabs one of the goats, Hans, wearing a suit of armor, heads onto the bridge and retrieves the other goats, then pours some Christian blood onto the bridge. When the Ringlefinch goes onto the bridge to investigate, Hans attempts to use a giant syringe to take a blood sample but the troll ends up knocking him unconscious. After the troll goes back under the bridge, Thomas and the others go check on Hans, who recovers and then heads down after the troll, getting the blood sample before killing it. They then head to a vet to drop off the sample and Thomas interviews her while they are there. The vet says it will take a few days to get the results of the sample so they drive off, with Hans wanting to check out some of the nearby territories to see if any trolls have left the area. They eventually head to a farm where a supposed tornado occurred but Hans determines that 3 trolls had ran through the area, which explains the knocked over trees. Coming back at night to track the trolls, Hans heads out but as Thomas and Johanna go to follow, Kalle starts getting nervous and doesn’t want to go but Thomas convinces him to follow Hans. They soon come to an abandoned mine and Hans determines that this is where they sleep during the day and heads in for a closer look. As the others follow, Kalle asks for more troll stench to put on and they discover that the mine is the lair for several trolls but as they go to leave, they hear the trolls returning to the mine and quickly hide in a side passage. Trapped by the trolls, Kalle nervously puts on more stench but when he runs out, he admits to the others that he is Christian. As he starts sweating, the trolls start to wake up and catch wind of his scent and Hans tells them to run. They make a break for the exit, with Hans using his UV rifle to try and fend off the trolls but they manage to grab and kill Kalle. Later, Finn meets up with them and says the troll situation is getting out of hand and is upset that they are still filming what is going on, with Finn and Hans arguing when Finn tries to grab the camera from Johanna. Thomas and Johanna decide to keep riding with Hans and are joined by a new camerawoman, Malica. When Thomas asks if she is Christian, Malica says she is Muslim and Hans admits he doesn’t know how the trolls will react to that. Coming across a section of forest where all the trees have been knocked down, Hans says it looks like a Jotnar, the largest of the trolls, came through there, which is why the other trolls have all been moved from their normal territories. Explaining that power lines act as electrical fences surrounding troll territories, they head to the power station and learn that a section of power lines had been knocked down 3 weeks ago. Heading into the territory, they head to a TSS (Troll Security Service) cabin and sleep there as they make plans to try and locate the Jotnar. At the cabin, Thomas begins to feel ill and Johanna tries to take care of him in the cabin. Hearing roaring in the distance, Hans heads outside and unveils the massive UV spotlight he attached to the roof of his Land Rover. When the vet calls and tells them the blood sample he took tested positive for rabies, Hans believes that the Jotnar infected all of the other trolls, causing them to leave their territories, and that Thomas is infected as well. As the Jotnar appears in the distance, Hans rides out and attempts to kill it with the strobe light but the flash runs out of power. Driving back to the others, they head out, with the Jotnar giving chase, and Hans explains that he has to wear it out some before he will be able to kill it. When they see someone flagging them down, they stop to pick the stranger up and Hans uses the strobe to drive it off but as he tries to get in front of it to attack it again, the troll swipes the Land Rover and knocks it on it’s side. As they get out of the vehicle, they see the Jotnar roaring in pain and Hans grabs his gear, preparing to finish off the Jotnar. Hans tells Thomas that he hopes he has enough footage then points them towards the highway. Hans manages to kill the Jotnar but then disappears from view so Thomas, Johanna, Malica, and the hitchhiker (who was a seismologist) begin walking down the highway. When they spot some cars approaching them, Thomas and Johanna recognize them as Finn and his men and Thomas grabs the camera from Malica and he and Johanna try to run for it. Johanna falls and ends up being caught and Thomas is shown making it to the highway but as a truck approaches he is tackled and drops the camera.
The footage ends there and no sign of Thomas and the others was found, nor was Kalle’s body recovered. Though the government never fully acknowledged that trolls exist, the Prime Minister does mention that Norway has trolls and needed more power lines to contain them and though his aide does react to his statement, the press doesn’t seem to pay it any heed.
Trollhunter met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Trollhunter is a mockumentary with an appropriate level of creeping dread, but one that also benefits from generous helpings of dry wit.” The movie uses several references to Norwegian folklore and culture in regard to trolls, as well as some fairy tales, such as “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. The movie was a success in Norway, earning NOK 24 million ($4.159 million) off of a budget of NOK 19 million ($3.5 million).
This is one of the better “found footage” films out there. The acting was good, with Otto Jespersen (Hans), Glenn Erland Tosterud (Thomas), and Johanna Mørok (Johanna) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked Tomas Alf Larsen, who did a good job playing the skeptical Kalle, but really did a good job selling the panic and fear when they were trapped in the cave. The story was good, with the use of folklore doing a good job helping to sell the belief that trolls really did exist in modern day Norway. I also thought the footage of the scenery as they just traveled to the various locations was great and helped make this seem like a real documentary. The special effects regarding the trolls were a lit better than I thought they would be and I liked how they made sure to make the trolls look different to indicate all the different species that there are. I know subtitled movies are not everyone’s personal preference but this is one that is well worth giving a shot.
Rating: 4 out of 5