The Troll Hunter from Norway is celebrated as being Norway’s first film with “photo realistic” effects. It’s shot documentary-style (ala Blair Witch and Cloverfield) as a trio of college students follow a hunter that (they think) is hunting bears in the Norwegian countrysides. They soon find out that he’s hunting much more.
The dialogue is all Norwegian, so there are subtitles, but the story is incredibly engrossing. The college students that we follow have pretty unique personalities (though the man behind the camera doesn’t get the spotlight til near the climax of the film). The story is believable but dabbles in enough fantasy to give us a fresh story.
In addition to our three college students, we follow Hans, who is the “bear hunter.” Within minutes, we are thrust into a world that is completely foreign and completely dangerous. He hunts trolls for a living. I’ll leave the clever explanation of why to him, but it’s a fun story to watch unfold. Hans is tough enough to be believable, but there are some really tender moments where you see the regret in his eyes as he tells stories of how he has massacred trolls for most of his life. These four are really the only core actors, in addition to a few supporting roles that show up every so often.
As we explore this world, we get to encounter a few types of trolls, each which comes with its own fairytale lore. One scene with three billy goats on a bridge is especially memorable. These trolls are all unique and give a distinct challenge to our heroes. And they all look very true to the old cartoons I remember seeing as a kid (I grew up in a Norwegian town in Washington until I hit 3rd grade).
Interesting fact. This film tapped into three different visual effects companies to create these trolls, each company spearheading various sequences.
So what is good? The film is paced well and knows how long to dwell in certain scenes. The effects are pretty realistic and some of the more gargantuan trolls are awe-inspiring. The characters are likeable and the mythology behind the trolls is incredibly interesting (as is the explanation for how trolls exist in today’s world).
What’s not good? Utilizing the “found footage” method worked for the most part, but chase scenes through the woods got a little tiresome. I think the third time it happened, I rolled my eyes. Also, the final troll they encounter is really interesting but the film kind of ends suddenly. Not that big of a disappointment, but I kind of wanted more closure.
So should I watch it?
The Troll Hunter is available on Netflix streaming now and I would definitely encourage you to watch it. The Norwegian landscapes are gorgeous and the story is unique enough to keep your attention (or at least, it kept mine). The film has enough humor to make you chuckle, but also a few parts that had me on the edge of my seat. For the first time on international radars, Norway’s hit a home-run.