TrollHunters: Close to Life and Fantasy

This film surprised me, not only does it integrate a real feel to such a fantasy plot such as people hunting for mythical trolls, but it is done in a film that is most commonly known in the horror genre. Trollhunters incorporates multiple ideas emerging in Hollywood, such as the found footage genre which is affiliated with horror films such as Blair Witch Project and Quarantine, and a documentary similar in vein with a film we watched in class; The Five Obstructions. It’s interesting to see how the direction and flow of the narrative presupposes itself that the events are indeed real, justified by how the actors and direction of scenes seems to follow people in this documentary-style. There are numerous scenes where the characters would casually talk about trolls as if they were indeed real in this life, making it as if the film we were watching was authentic or true to life. This blending of reality and fantasy makes the film interesting in terms of how different they are with the other films we watched in class; where either it is deeply intrenched with its own abstract plot (e.g. Persona, Goodbye Lenin) or too close to reality (e.g. The Five Obstructions). Trollhunters makes a mark in European cinema as it tries to present fantasy and pass it to us as reality, through clever use of the found footage genre of film.

For this insight, I’d like to focus on how to director, André Øvredal made true to life documentary out of such an abstract and fantastic idea such as trolls in modern day. It was interesting to see the buildup of what the troll is, whether it was real or not, and what it would look like. Øvredal really touched upon the mystery and intrigue of the troll, as even the characters who are filmed are skeptical of this idea of trolls in the woods. The intro itself, which comprises of subtitles describing the scenes coming as legitimate and authentic film, a tactic not seen in other types of cinema and even found footage films. The use of one source or viewpoint of seeing this film is justified as it is all untampered lost footage, presented to us as real. The establishing shots and conversations littered throughout this film leave me comfortable with how real it is – not anticipating the terror of the troll and the massive impact it can do to the rest of the characters. In essence, the characters conducting their research in these areas can be an extension of the audience – grounded with the comforts of reality, disconnected from the fantasy. When they first encounter the massive troll in the woods, we feel terror and the shock reflected by the cameramen and woman as they experience such an absurdity.  In essence, this film can be a play of expectations with how ideas locked and restricted onto one genre or mood of film (in this case, found footage and bio-documentaries) can create a sense of discomfort as the ideas breach those barriers. If this was done in the Hollywood setting, it would be in the way of multiple shots and scenes in different camera angles, showing of the massive presence the monster possesses. Monster movies such as Pacific Rim and Godzilla are great examples in how they represent the magnitude of the monster using all the directing tools they have. In this however, the experience of the monster is locked onto one screen of them, in darkly set areas where it can be hard to see the monster in its entirety. This is the disconnect Øvredal develops through this film; You would expect a straight documentary that would lock itself onto reality, but instead, we get a film which blurs the line between reality and fantasy because of the medium it was shot in and the direction it took in presenting the main monster and developments surrounding these characters. I appreciate the effort made in this film as it one of the first I’ve seen that incorporates a fantasy element in such a real life setting.




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