Troll Hunter Review
by Louise Bohmer
Director: André Ovredal
Release date: October 29, 2010
Rating: PG-13 (USA)
Running time: 104 minutes
The premise of Troll Hunter appealed to the fae (and monster) loving child in me right away. A young film crew set out to track a bear poacher named Hans, but they discover there is far more than Winnie the Pooh lurking in these woods.
It’s a mockumentary–something I’m admittedly getting tired of, so I had some reservations. The film starts off a bit slow. I thought the buildup was well done overall, but I did grow impatient for some troll glimpses. Still the early scenes are creepy and effective in stirring childlike imagination back to life. Those who have wandered a rural forest at night will know what I mean.
There’s a conspiracy to hide the existence of trolls, and these unwitting university students have just stumbled right on top of it. Hans’ poaching reputation is a ruse, and bears are brought in from as far as Croatia to provide a cover story when rampaging trolls break out of territory lines, slaughtering humans, livestock, and causing general havoc. Hans works for the TST, better known as the Troll Security Team.
But he’s getting tired of this dirty, grim work. He’s not so cool with killing trolls anymore. So he decides to expose this Norway folklore as truth, by taking the film crew along on a covert hunting excursion.
After a ride in Hans’ Land Rover, and a thorough bath in troll stink, our filmmakers journey deep into these Norwegian woods to hunt a raglefant–a towering, one-armed monstrosity that lives under a bridge. Let’s just say viewers will never look at Three Billy Goats Gruff in the same way again.
Hans hunts these beasts with a bulky UV gun. No bullets for this weapon. It shoots out a strong beam of UV light instead because, as we all know, trolls turn to stone when light touches them, or they explode. Later, the film gives a scientific explanation for this, via a veterinarian who works with Hans in the TST. Trolls’ bodies can’t turn Vitamin D from sunlight into calcium the way we can, so when they’re exposed to intense UV rays their stomachs bloat as gas fills it and blood vessels until they explode. The older trolls calcify from sunlight. Since their veins are too thin, apparently the enlarging happens in their bones, and they turn to limestone in no time.
A lot of Norwegian folklore references are sprinkled throughout the film, and references to Norwegian fairy tales. The two species of trolls, mountain and woodland, come from Norway’s folklore. The folk tales collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe are mentioned, but our hunter Hans tells the filmmakers these old fairy tales weren’t entirely accurate. Oh, and if you’re a Christian, you may want to avoid troll territory altogether.
Some of the trolls are seen through night vision, which some viewers might not care for, but other troll encounters are simply spectacular. (I don’t want to say too much, in case I spoil the troll goodness for you.) The scene in the cave is particularly intense, and actually brought back that childhood giddy fear I so love. (Remember watching your favorite horror flicks, clutching a pillow with all your might? That kind of fear.)
Troll Hunter also incorporates subtle, quirky humor, but even this fun movie has its somewhat serious moments, when world issues and Norwegian bureaucracy are pondered. The effects are, at times, amazing, and at the very least they’re great fun. The story developed to explain the existence of trolls will thrill any folklorist, fae enthusiast, or monster lover, and the light humorous vein will have you laughing in the film’s quieter moments.
If you’re a lover of these lumbering, hairy, stinky giants of fae, I highly recommend you check this one out.
Louise Bohmer is a freelance editor and writer based in Sussex, New Brunswick. She edits for Permuted Press, and is an associate editor with KHP Publishers, Inc. Her debut novel–The Black Act–was released by Library of Horror in 2009, but is now out of print. You can read her short fiction inDetritus, Old School, The Red Penny Papers, and Courting Morpheus.