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October 2nd, 2013


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09:12 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: Troll Hunter
People have been recommending 2010's Troll Hunter</i></a> to me since it came out, and I have been ignoring it because I'm not crazy about found footage movies. The Lovecraftian in me has a soft spot for The Blair Witch Project and its audacious marketing campaign, and I've always felt that a big-budget disaster movie presented in realtime (i.e., Cloverfield) would be the the logical endpoint of the genre, but in general I find them to be bad stories told well. They usually lack the nuances that reward repeat viewings. I think it must be hard to write a good found footage movie, and I have some theories as to why that is, but does anyone care? I thought not.

Anyway, as I said, I've been ignoring Troll Hunter. Not avoiding it, exactly, but it was a very low priority. I get together with some friends for Movie Night once a week, and when somebody suggested suggested Troll Hunter, I decided the time had finally come.

As Troll Hunter opens, a team of students are making a documentary about Norway's bear poaching problem. This is not the kind of Problem that deserves a capital P; it's one guy who's going around shooting bears without a license. Nobody knows know who the culprit is, but when they find him, the other hunters are going to wring his neck.

The kids identify the poacher as a reclusive, middle-aged guy named Hans who turns down their interview requests. They stalk him into the woods one night, and, after a serious of bright lights flash among the trees, Hans comes running out and screams "TROLL!" He runs back to his vehicle, and the kids follow. One of them is bitten by something during the retreat. The kids discover their vehicle on its side, severely damaged and missing its tires. They pile into Hans' SUV, and he explains that he's been hunting trolls. The kids don't quite believe this, but they've found an interesting subject for their documentary, so they ask to film him, and he agrees.

The next night they all return to the woods, and Hans demands that they bathe in the river and wipe themselves down with a disgusting "troll scent". The kids think they're being messed with, but they do as they're told. Later that night, they encounter their first troll--a giant, hulking, three-headed thing. It is a frightening and enlightening experience. The troll turns to stone when Hans exposes it to a powerful ultraviolet light, and he sets to breaking it into smaller, unidentifiable pieces with a jackhammer. The sun is just coming up as the Finn Haugen, head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board, shows up with a slain bear to deposit as part of the cover-up.

Later in a diner, Hans fills out a formal incident report, and answers the kids' questions. What do trolls eat? How smart are they? How big can they get? Why doesn't anybody know about this? What government agency funds your operation? Hans expresses his concerns that the trolls have been behaving strangely. Something is up with the troll population, and the anomalies need to be contained.

...and I think I'll leave the summary there.

Troll Hunter was fun. I found myself thinking, midway through, that it doesn't quite contain enough scares to classify as a horror movie, but that changed pretty quickly as the film approached its climax. If that sounds like a spoiler, consider that I told you upfront that this was a found footage movie, which pretty much implies that the actors won't be around to do an in-character Q&A after the credits. I'd like to see the found footage movie where everybody's still alive, and the archivist who cut the movie together spends the final ten minutes being repeatedly denied interviews by the filmmakers.

Audiences liked Troll Hunter, but critics have been less kind, and I'm not sure why that is. I found it to be very well put together; the plot unspools slowly and organically. It really does feel like a team of documentarians embarking on one project, getting sidetracked into another, and then becoming too involved in something big. The movie doesn't spend a lot of time on troll biology and anthropology, but both of those topics get enough coverage to make the story seem plausible. And it's funny--did I mention that? No, I suppose not. Troll Hunter is a very dryly funny movie, which makes it a bit of a thinker in comparison with your average Corman monster picture. Will it hold up to repeated viewings, now that I know all its secrets? I'm not sure. But I'd love to watch again with somebody who hasn't seen it.

Click here for the trailer.

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31 Days of Halloween: Troll Hunter - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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