Trollhunter (2010) is a Norwegian dark fantasy film written and directed by André Øvredal, most known for mystery and thriller flick The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) among other works.
The film presented an interesting take on the found-footage execution that has become something of a trope in recent years. As a viewer completely new to dark fantasy and what the genre was all about, I felt this was achieved by marrying this with elements of European cinema (and European culture in general) including Norse mythology and Norwegian culture.
Being that the film was released under a decade ago, it presents a rather modern take on European cinema in comparison to the other films taken up in class. This will be an accessible watch even for or viewers of mainstream, American cinema: it was entertaining and full of action and suspense given its found footage format. It was also a unique take as found footage was very popular at the time but was largely concentrated in the horror genre. I expected the director’s approach to be similar to those films (e.g. Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project), but what came out was instead something like Jurassic Park and was more of an adventure movie than a thriller. It was interesting to see found footage outside of horror and the supernatural where the found footage was more of the medium than the point of the entire affair.
I quite appreciated that the film’s director refused to lean on the tropes of the found-footage format to be engaging. It was very refreshing to see an entry in the genre that didn’t rely on jumpscares, which I’d seen so much of that I almost expected more of the same from this film. There were no jumpscares, yet the film brought a certain sort of fear into the hearts of the audience. Rather than scare us with anticipation and aggression (as jump scares do), the film toyed with viewers as we came to grips with the unknown. Because of the commitment to this form, I felt it made the audience think about whether trolls were real or not, especially towards the end of the film (Press conference at the end, the filming with a broken camera, etc.)
Most of the dark fantasy aspect came from the trolls themselves. The film included many elements of Norwegian culture and folktales. I appreciated that the world of the trolls seemed to be very fleshed out. Examples of this include the different species and breeds of trolls, each with special names and abilities, along with the existence of a secret organization formed to keep the existence of these trolls a secret from the public eye. The fact that the trolls turned into stone in direct sunlight and possessed the ability to sense a Christian man’s blood further elevated this eclectic fantasy element to the film. All these afforded the film a distinctly Norwegian and mythical flavor that I felt made the film very interesting to viewers.