there’s a new blair witch movie coming and that makes me sad. found footage so often sucks. but there’s a found footage movie that doesn’t suck. it’s one of my personal favorite films, and i cannot even remember how i found it, but it’s a delightfully hilarious, dark norwegian movie called Trollhunter. unfortunately, as a norwegian movie, it is in norsk, so if you can’t handle subtitles, this movie isn’t for you. but if reading dialogue isn’t too hard for you… man i love this movie. i watched it again last night and wanted to gush so much i decided to write this and delay thoughts on how i kinda liked suicide squad. i would like a trailer here but the official trailer has a couple of spoilers i’d rather avoid in it. sad day.
trollhunter features thomas, kalle, and johanna, film students who track down and film “bear poacher” hans. of course this movie is called “troll” hunter, not “bear” hunter, so it’s not much of a reveal when he’s actually out hunting and tracking trolls for the norwegian government, and using bear carcasses to cover up the trolls’ damage. yes, this is a fiercely low budget affair, so the troll visuals are poor, but it’s usually hidden through distance, night-vision camera effects, low lighting, and in one instance, a rear view mirror. the director was well aware of this movie’s limitations and planned accordingly.
trollhunter masquerades as a blair witch style found footage suspense horror thriller. if it attempts this in earnest, it fails miserably but becomes a goodbad movie. to me the ideas in this thing are so absurd that it really seems to be a parody of the genre that also pays homage to norse folklore. (not that i know any norse folklore, the internet told me that it’s full of references to it.) there is a scene with a literal troll under a literal bridge. in this scene, hans, who has trucked these students around in his jeep with a camper trailer behind it, mysteriously comes up with not one, not two, but three sheep to use as bait. he also produces a bucket of a christian man’s blood–trolls despise the smell of a christian according to this movie, and hans isn’t sure how this applies to other religions–seemingly from nowhere. after hunting trolls for the first hour of the film in standard outdoorsman gear, he appears suddenly wearing a suit of armor made of sheets of scrap metal, because he needs armor to get a blood sample from this particular troll. with a perfect marvin the paranoid android intonation, he moans, “god, i hate this crap.” later he lures an extra-deadly troll by blasting over a loudspeaker, in norsk of course, the hymn “what a friend we have in jesus.” you cannot convince me this is a serious movie.
thomas is your on-camera talent of the trio. he bumbles somewhat and is a little too bold, both in how he bluntly follows hans around at first, and how he casually leads his team into what should be certain danger. he shoots an intro to a scene using a toothbrush like it’s his mic, and even after he notices and puts it down, forgets and raises it back up again. he’s reasonably naive until the stakes are raised somewhere around the 4th act.
johanna does audio, and as such spends almost the entire movie waving a boom mic around and wearing headphones. others will say “did you hear that?” but her line becomes “i’m picking up some strange noises.” she’s the most cynical that they’re actually going to go hunt trolls with this hans, but when they catch one on camera she’s the most excited and i think its her (hard to tell because everyone is shouting over each other and subtitles) who says “i told you!”
kalle spends most of the movie off screen because he operates the camera. he’s also the most nervous of the bunch, which does at least keep the camera out of danger the vast majority of the time, and also leads him to use the night vision to find out where danger is. that lets us see the trolls without also seeing how bad they look, haha.
finally we come to hans. after initially being paranoid about the film crew and brushing them off, once they actually follow him one night, he decides to let them tag along with him because he’s sick of his job. (maybe. spoilers at the end of this will speculate about that.) he talks matter of factly about troll species, their territory, their number of heads, and the disgusting way everything smells. “so i can approach with out them noticing,” he explains. as the film progresses he goes from protecting what he knows to trying to help thomas find scientific troll information, explaining his job, even showing off his forms and stuff.
so yeah. it starts a little bit rough, but after about 10-15 minutes i become a tremendous fan of this movie. i’m not sure why they set out to film a documentary about a poacher, and judging by their reaction to the first troll that was actually their real target, but the movie doesn’t really make that clear at all. they never film an introduction or anything. but once they follow hans into the night it starts running and never stops. if you’re a fan of goofy darkish farce, or if you want a parody of found footage, troll hunter is just outstanding and you should watch it. my favorite scenes are the bridge troll (which is longer than that clip) and the polish painters, which i can’t find a clip of except him saying (in english) “why problem make when you no problem have you don’t want to make?”
this is the spoiler bit. the blog is over if you haven’t seen it.
if you’ve seen this movie: does anyone else think hans is kind of entertaining the film crew for fun, and once they’ve videotaped evidence, planned to hand them over to finn the whole time? he points them to the road as he takes off on foot to finish off the giant, and the first cars to show up just so happen to be finn? how did finn find out? he only told the vet about what he was doing up there in the plateau. i think he never really expected any of the kids to actually get hurt, so when kalle dies in the mine he immediately starts talking about them going home, and sends them away from the very next troll (the giant) and straight to finn? that’s kind of my working theory. hans played along to see where this would go, and when it got real he decided to lose them and their evidence while he was at it. it also would explain why finn only kind of makes any attempt to get the tapes from them before the end.