Found footage horror refuses to go away thanks to the success of the Paranormal Activity franchise and reality TV shows like Paranormal State. Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal breathes zesty life into the found footage trend with The Troll Hunter, a monster thrill ride that combines handheld camerawork with rollicking action reminiscent of Jurassic Park. Øvredal transforms Norwegian mountain trolls into classic movie monsters every bit as menacing as vampires or werewolves. Troll Hunter's YouTube friendly camerawork-courtesy of cinematographer Hallvard Bræin-and fast-paced car chases across the Norwegian backcountry make the it as exciting as it is frightening. Making its North American premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival with follow-up festival screenings at Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Fests, the film looks to be a modest cult hit for Magnet Releasing. The genre division of Magnolia Pictures picked up the film after a work-in-progress showing at last year's Fantastic Fest in Austin. Troll Hunter is also an impressive calling card for Øvredal who shows great talent for mixing laughs with action and perfectly timed jolts of horror. Troll Hunter may be a relatively low-budget fantasy but the film looks epic in all the right sequences. Watching the climactic chase with a towering troll, it's fun to imagine the magic Øvredal will create with a Hollywood budget once he receives the chance.
Three Norwegian college filmmakers (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morch and Tomas Alf Larsen) are working on a documentary about illegal bear poaching and decide to interview a trailer park loner named Hans (Otto Jespersen). What the students discover is that Hans is not some backcountry eccentric. He's actually a troll hunter working for a secret Norwegian government agency known as the Troll Security Service. Han makes sure the trolls remain on their secured reservations and removes any evidence of their existence from unsuspecting people. Of course the students don't believe Hans' stories of towering monsters, until they encounter one up close.
Production designer Martin Gant and sound designer Baard Haugen take full advantage of the film's found footage concept and give Troll Hunter the look of a student film.
Øvredal, who made his debut feature Future Murder in 1997, wisely keeps keep the mysterious trolls hidden in the shadows and provides only quick glimpses via night-vision camerawork. It's a great technique that helps build excitement for the film's high-energy climax when the troll gives terrifying chase.
Øvredal keeps the film fun from the start and wisely emphasizes the action throughout the movie as much as the monsters.
Strong reviews and target marketing promoting Øvredal as the next hot filmmaker, this year's Neill Blomkamp, will help build awareness within the genre fan base willing to check out a Norwegian-language thriller.
Troll Hunter comes together perfectly at the film's lightning-fast finish, as the troll hunter and the college filmmakers attempt to outrun a gigantic troll in a frantic chase across the frozen tundra. It emerges as one of those rare genre films with legitimate crossover potential. It's also a fantasy movie too good to be limited to the fan boys. Troll Hunter is a wild and wacky trip for everyone.
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Hans Morten Hansen, Johanna Mørch, Tomas Alf Larsen
Director/Screenwriter: André Øvredal
Producers: Sveinung Golimo, John M. Jacobsen
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy/Horror; Norwegian-language, subtitled
Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of creature terror.
Running Time: 103 min.
Release Date: June 10 NY