Originally known as TROLLJEGEREN, this Norwegian found-footage genre movie was a big hit in its native Norway when it released late last year. Since then, it's been buzzing strong all over the world and subsequently became a worldwide sensation. The movie is so popular that Hollywood has already acquired the rights to remake it. Now here lies the biggest question: What makes TROLL HUNTER such a phenomenal sensation? Upon finally watching it, it's easy to see why. TROLL HUNTER is unlike any found-footage genre movie you mostly expected from the Hollywood counterparts. Sure, found-footage genre nowadays are very typical but Norwegian director Andre Ovredal manages to put a fresh spin in TROLL HUNTER by spicing up the famous Scandanavian folklore about troll and mixing it with horror, adventure and comedy. Best of all, it's the first found-footage movie where you don't have to suffer nausea from the ever-distracting shaky cam movements. As good as it looks, I still feel TROLL HUNTER is a highly overrated movie. More on that later.
The movie follows three ambitious student filmmakers, consisting of journalist Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), sound recordist Johanna (Johanna Morck) and cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), embark on a long journey into the most region of Norway to locate a notorious bear poacher who's been making headline of killing a lot of bears. But the so-called "bear poacher" and all the bear killings turn out to be an elaborate disguise after all, especially after they manage to confront the particular person named Hans (Otto Jespersen). They also subsequently learns that Hans is actually a "troll hunter", who works for a secret government agency to cover up the existence of these gigantic monsters from public consciousness. After a few hiccups earlier on, they finally granted permission to follow Hans all along to film as much footage as they can. During their ongoing mission, they find out that Hans carries an enormous UV light capable of stopping the trolls dead in its tracks. In order to survive from troll attacks, they need to rub their bodies with troll's stench to render them invisible. So far so good until they eventually learn the increasing level of danger they're getting themselves into.
Before I go further about how overrated this movie actually is, let me say that TROLL HUNTER is technically impressive which rivals the one we see in a bigger-budgeted Hollywood monster movie. Director Andre Ovredal and his talented set of crew make great use of the majestic scenery surrounding the Norwegian landscape, while the special effects work is especially top-notch. The CGI-created troll looks convincing enough that blends well with the live-action surroundings it's almost like watching JURASSIC PARK (1993). Ovredal also good in creating tension and exciting action set-pieces. Among them are the first encounter with the three-headed troll, the nail-biting confrontation between Hans and the troll on a remote bridge, and the climactic showdown on top of a desolate snowy mountain which ends with a dramatic chase scene it immediately recalls the same level of excitement I used to watch the final scene in GODZILLA (1998). Apart from that, the filmmakers also make fantastic use of sound as their grunts, snorts, growls and footsteps echo through the hills. That's not all, I'm particularly pleased with the choice of cameraworks (including clever use of night-vision mode) here. Sure, there are few shaky cams every once in a while but at least the filmmakers ensure we are able to witness the action without resulting into some kind of distraction it's hard for the viewers to keep track what is going on all the while.
The cast are all excellent, especially the lead performance by virtually unknown Otto Jespersen. In fact, he's a scene stealer each time he appears. He has that effective mix of veteran grit and world-weary look that makes his overall deadpan performance entertaining enough to watch for.
Now being a hybrid movie can be a good thing if things are done right. By contrast, TROLL HUNTER is actually succeeded admirably but I can't help feeling it the tone is inconsistent. The movie suffers from a few patchy pace that drags the momentum, while some of the dry humors feel largely muted. It's a bit overlong as well, despite clocking at a reasonable 100 minutes especially most of the scenes feel predictable.
TROLL HUNTER is hardly a cinematic masterpiece one might have expected, but at least it is clear that Norway has its exciting way to make the kind of entertaining blockbuster normally associated to Hollywood.