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Nordic Film Festival: Troll Hunter

December 30, 2012

FestivalsFilm + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


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As well as Oslo, August 31st, the Nordic Film Festival 2012 featured Troll Hunter, which I saw one late Saturday night at Leicester Square’s Prince Charles Theatre. A big fan of ‘monster movies’, I have been waiting a while to see this, never getting the chance until now. Did it live up to expectations? I’m actually still unsure…

Directed by Andre Ovredal, Troll Hunter follows a group of students that are intent on solving the mystery behind some bear killings for a class project. They set out, camera in hand and trail a hunter they believe is behind the slaughters. What starts as actually a lot of fun soon turns into something else altogether as they discover a world beyond anything they ever imagined.

Initially, I was anticipating a film that was laden with horror and weightiness, something that would be revolutionary and leave me dumbfounded, but instead I was presented with a film full of humour and a lack of substance. The students are all great in reflecting the relevant emotion necessary for most scenes, such as the horror they obviously feel when first seeing a troll but this is never consistent and I, as a viewer wanted to feel the same sense of foreboding that they did. The film plods along like this for close to two hours and not once did I fear or worry for the characters… They just do not maintain any serious emotion that enables viewers to empathise with them and their situation. Something resembling Cloverfield is what I feel this should have been. I wanted to see people in a real-life setting absolutely terrified by a monster threatening everything they have ever believed in, making you think that perhaps, this could really happen? Troll Hunter is not in the least bit scary but then I don’t think it wants to be. Unlike Cloverfield, the monsters here are not made out to be in the strongest sense and they are not strictly the enemy, for they are only hunted to control their numbers and to make sure they can live a comfortable life away from humans. There is even a very upsetting scene which deals with the mass homicide of a large group of trolls, including infants: this film doesn’t intend for us to fear or hate them.

There are good points to this film too, including the brilliant imagery and special effects. The trolls look very realistic and their appearances are always set against stunning backdrops of wild forests or endless, sprawling mountains. The tone too, though not what I would have expected or indeed wanted prior to seeing the film kind of works. There were a fair few laugh out loud and ironic moments that delighted the whole of the cinema and ensures Troll Hunter will not completely fall off the radar.

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So what genre does the film fit into? Monster movies of the past and present do not, on the whole, allow us to feel for the monster/s in question, instead relying on the element of terror and mystery. Troll Hunter isn’t without its scary moments but any feeling of fear quickly disappears and you’re left feeling a little bit lost. It is an original and I’m sure others will follow suit but I can’t help feeling that it all got lost somewhere. If you’re at all curious then definitely check this film out but don’t expect to have any sleepless nights.

Samuel Sims.