When I first found out that we were going to watch Trollhunter, I was pretty surprised. This is because I actually have had the pleasure of watching this movie before when it came out at the height of the fount footage movie boom. After Paranormal Activity’s breakout and success in 2007, found footage horror movies became the in and new industry trend, and while plenty of these movies were terrible, some used the found footage conceit to create something distinctly unique and wonderful – and it just so happens that one of those movies that I have seen is Trollhunter.
Trollhunter’s main plot concerns itself with a group of students investigating the death of a bear that was illegally poached. What begins as an ordinary investigation suddenly turns into something much more supernatural as the students find out that the hunter of the bear is actually a Trollhunter – mandated in secret by the government. With the titular trollhunter wanting to quit his dangerous and underpaid job, the students join him as he hunts trolls and risk their lives along the way.
In essense, Trollhunter’s plot is actually almost like the found footage movie that started it all – The Blair Witch Project. It is like Blair Witch in the sense that the film is about students recording something mysterious that is happening, and yet at the same time one can also see how this blind devotion to recording takes a toll on the characters. They get scared, they get injured, they risk their lives several times, and yet the camera keeps rolling as their determination sticks. What the film has differently over Blair Witch, however, is that while the scared students panic and run over each other, the film’s titular character is nonchalant and indifferent towards his work. To him, this is just something normal, and it is this neutrality that makes every troll encounter in the film equal parts thrilling and almost-comical.
Furthermore, something that really surprised me about the movie is that while the found footage style of filmmaking allows this movie’s visual effects to have more wiggle room with regards to how good it looks, the movie does not take this road and instead utilizes this style of filmmaking to amplify the scale and fearful wonder that the movie brings. When the eponymous trolls are on screen, the loud sound design and nervous camerawork keeps the film’s pace at a high rate.
Additionally, despite the film not being bound by normal means of cinematography, the film manages to capture beautiful views of the Norwegian landscape. From bright green forests to desolate and cold fjords, the film moves with its setting as much as its characters move the cameras, and this was very memorable and noticeable.
The movie, however, like most films in the genre, suffers from issues. One is that I felt that the characters were rather flat allthroughout. There was really no distinct character that stood out, and that made it very hard to empathize with any of them. Secondly, for some reason, the film felt too long near the second act. While the movie is a very easy and breezy 104 minutes, the midportion of the stretch suffers from some pacing issues that were very noticeable and contradictory to a majority of the movie. And the last issue of the film is that its ending manages to both be vague and confusing – maybe part of it is that I do not understand the social or political satire that the film attempts at times with the presence of the government agents but it just did not feel like an appropriate ending
Still, despite these problems, as a whole, Trollhunter was still an exhilarating and thrilling 104 minutes and is one of the best examples of this type of film.