Whilst interviewing bear stalkers for their university course-work, three Norwegian students learn of a mysterious hunter who is after bigger fare. They have stumbled onto a staggering secret: far from being the fairytale creatures claimed by the government, Trolls in fact exist in large numbers across Norway’s forests and plateaus! The Troll Hunter’s grizzly task is to keep them there and away from the towns.
What follows is a hugely entertaining romp through remote Fjordland in search of the errant Trolls. It is a film within a film, made up of the students’ unedited footage and interviews with the jaded hunter. The humour and the horror are built on this style: the students’ panic is palpable in ever-jerkier camera movements; seeing the first shots of the creatures in semi-focussed night vision, the audience shares the students’ incredulity. The student’s amateurism contrasts in itself with the tired professionalism of their guide.
It is neither special effects nor imaginative filming, which really make this film – it is the satirical world of bureaucracy and media relations the writers create around the Trolls’ existence. From the cynical civil servant’s attempts to explain away missing livestock, to the hunter’s musings on Troll psychology, the background is carefully constructed through anecdotes and interviews delivered in delightfully dead-pan tones. The film’s subjects may be rooted in folklore but the ham-fisted politics surrounding them are all too believable, and brilliantly brought to life in mock-umentary style.
The filmmakers have abandoned all mystery in the title, but The Troll Hunter does what it says. It is brash, intelligent and terrific fun. An American remake reputedly is already on its way, so take the chance to see the Nordic original in its sardonic, bone-crunching glory.