When I found out that we were going to watch a found footage film named Trollhunter, I was excited; I love watching sci-fi films that tackle supernatural monsters and mythology. I was expecting that the film would be a lot more serious, like Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project, but I was pleasantly surprised with how Øvredal managed to incorporate some light humor and satire into its sci-fi/fantasy/horror aspects.
I really liked how Øvredal gave the cinematography a found footage style. Trollhunter’s attention to details, especially of authenticity and continuity, was something I really appreciated with the film and something I think sets them apart from a lot of typical found footage films that focused too much on its horror elements. For example, when Kalle died and the camera lens cracked, they (annoyingly) kept that crack on film for almost 5 minutes until they could change the camera when Malica arrived with, both literally and figuratively, a new lens. The effort to try to convince the viewers about the authenticity of the found tapes was entertaining, especially at the start with the black screen with text and the end of the film with the press conference. They were really pushing for a conviction that the film was realistic and “raw and unedited”, making me think that maybe this wasn’t just an effort to try to portray a good found footage movie, but perhaps also trying to hint at the possibility of this reality—of trolls and secret government agencies actually existing.
Aside from this attention to detail, having a mockumentary style film provides the opportunity for the filmmaker to manipulate the plot and the scenes to their advantage. This helps in keeping the film interesting, while still maintaining that realistic and unprocessed aura. An example of this can be seen when we contrast the mockumentary to the documentary style of The Five Obstructions. Though its five remakes kept the film interesting, the scenes in between them could get boring at times.
Most importantly, I appreciated how much Norwegian culture was evident in the film. Even though it was trying to come off as a horror or sci-fi film, I couldn’t help but really notice how much of their culture was being reflected inadvertently. When I was doing research on the film’s background I found out that Øvredal really wanted his film to accurately represent Norwegian folk legends and he even used inspiration from many of the country’s myths. Even if the CGI and special effects were adequate for a monster movie, I was still fascinated with their portrayal of the trolls on the camera, because unlike most horror films, they really tried to show what they looked like and they stuck to physical details common in most popular folklore. Additionally, one of the best outcomes of having a documentary-style film is its random, yet seemingly normal insertions of the Norwegian scenery in the background whenever they were travel or filming the trolls.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed Trollhunter for its style and story, but its subtle play on certain elements like culture and comedy really adds some depth to the movie for me, bringing it beyond the simple and characteristic thriller-fantasy film.