DVD review — Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter is a Norwegian dark fantasy film, shot in the style of a documentary. When I first discovered this, I immediately expected low-budget schlock. Boy, was I surprised when I actually watched it. Troll Hunter turned out to be an unanticipated little gem.

A trio of Uni students set out to make a documentary about some recent incidents involving bear attacks, but end up discovering something almost beyond belief. There are no bear attacks. It’s all a government cover-up trying to hide the fact that there are trolls in the woods and mountains. The students soon track down a strange man, Hans, who everyone thinks is an unlicensed bear hunter. Turns out, he’s a government employed troll hunter. Worried about why the trolls have been acting up recently and rather fed up with his job, he decides to throw caution to the wind and allow the students to film his activities. It’s not long before the group encounters the trolls.

This is not low-budget schlock, as I had expected. It’s actually a well-written, well-acted, well-made, and rather original film with a decent budget. The camera work is in a rough student doco style, without being so shaky as to be difficult to watch. The effects are excellent and believably integrated into the doco style. The only thing that stood out to me was that the sound was way too good for a student doco where the crew were running around and often not even pointing the microphone in the right direction. But this is understandable. If the sound had been accurately poor, it would have made the film difficult to follow and rather annoying.

The film’s genre is, I guess, what you would call mockumentary. But it is not a comedy or a documentary parody. It’s a fantasy, a drama, an action flick and a character study all rolled into one documentary-style package, with a gentle thread of humour running throughout.

Otto Jespersen (apparently a rather famous Norwegian comedian) is brilliant as the laidback, matter-of-fact Troll Hunter. His deadpan delivery is just perfect. The students are all good, especially Glenn Erland Tosterud as Thomas, the interviewer. He brings a believable naivety and eagerness to the role.

The DVD comes with the option of watching it in Norwegian with English subtitles or as an English dub. I would highly recommend watching the subtitled version. I started on the dubbed version, but it’s so bad I switched it over after about five minutes.

Lots of extras on here, with behind-the-scenes stuff, interviews, effects work, bloopers, deleted/extended scenes and even some improv. Good stuff!

Strangely, the DVD cover only uses the lower part of the original promotional poster artwork. So instead of the entire troll, you only get to see his legs. This results in a rather uninspiring cover — the sort I’d bypass when browsing in a DVD store. A pity!

The rights to Troll Hunter have already been sold to the US and a Hollywood version is in development. I’m not sure this is such a good idea, as part of the film’s charm is its rural Norwegian setting and characters. And Hollywood is bound to tamper with all of that.

Anyway… a big thumbs up for this film.

Troll Hunter is released on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia by Madman.

Catch ya later,  George

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