Found footage films have always been quite a favorite of mine – the authenticity they lend to a film has the capacity to evoke another level of fear in viewers, if done correctly. One has to appreciate the level of skill that goes into making an effective horror film found-footage style, and the variety of challenges directors and editors have to overcome as opposed to traditional horror films. One of the most important challenges would most likely be the lack of music or non-diagetic sound. Non-diagetic sounds and background music instrumentals play a pivotal role in films, especially in horror films, whether it be to compound the viewers’ anxiety, distorting and channeling normal sounds into music that has the capacity to evoke suspense, surprise, and the like. Found footage films, in order to lend to the authenticity, thus have to make do with diagetic sounds in order to evoke the same level of fear and anxiety in its viewers.
Another way the film compensated for the lack of normal horror movie techniques was the singular deep blue hue used all throughout that contributed both to the film’s authenticity and dictated the rather dreary tone for the entire movie.
Finally, an interesting contrast I found between this particular film and other found footage films is that in Trollhunters, the antagonist is not clearly depicted and shown on screen. In an attempt to presumably heighten the horror or mystery, and further evoke a first-person feeling of “being in the film” found footage celebrates (by only seeing what the protagonist sees or even less) many found footage films either do not show the antagonist or monster (e.g., The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine) or are shown rather briefly, depicted either as far in the background, against a backdrop of smoke, brief half-second glimpses (e.g., the 2008 monster film Cloverfield). Trollhunters clearly shows the trolls – the monsters – in the film, and through this was still able to convey heightened feelings maybe not of fear, rather, of suspense, more often found in action films. The scene with the troll chasing the car for example, brought out in me a feeling I often feel when playing video games and am being chased by whatever villain was in the game.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the film. Aside from the fact that I personally enjoy not just found footage films, Trollhunters managed to bring together two of my all time favorite genres – action/sci-fi, and comedy. It was interesting to see how the director managed to combine all these different genres (on top of the film already being found footage) without concocting a complete mess of a disarrayed film that did not know what it was doing. While at some times various scenes, sequences, or plot points seemed rather bizarre, overall it was a great amalgamation and reinterpretation of traditional found-footage horror, and a testament to how European cinema, despite delving into more mainstream Hollywood film concepts, still manages to surprise and add its own uniquely weird and untraditional twist that highlights European film director’s individuality, as well as the European film as a whole.
Extra Comments: Trollhunters may then be described as a more careful attempt at film making as compared to other found footage films, in the simple fact that the videos taken by thee characters are supposed to be a thesis. Furthermore, what separates found footage films in general from other films is that there is no suspense as to whether the main characters succeed – any found footage film, especially if there is a deliberate reason as to why it is found footage, is always about the failure of why they were shooting in the first place.