Recently there’s been an influx of films that incorporate or grasp unflinchingly with two hands, the new gimmick of the hour that is ‘shakey cam’. Effectively used in The Blair Witch Project the gimmick has slowly been overused and watered down to the point where it has lost all shock factor. However, this hasn’t stopped Norwegian director of Troll Hunter, André Øvredal from creating another mockumentary, which makes extensive and reasonably effective use of the ‘shake cam’ style, which means he may surpass his peers of the hour, but never quite surpasses the ruling champion of the genre.
The film is set in Norway, where a group of teenage media students begin making a documentary about bear hunting for a competition. However, when they begin to follow a mysterious figure, they soon find themselves trapped in the top-secret world of troll hunting, and begin to document their findings.
For the budget that Troll Hunter was made on, you can never really complain about the quality of what’s on offer. When the momentum kicks in Troll Hunter surpasses nearly all of its competition and becomes an overwhelmingly unabated thrill ride. It has its moments of pure skittishness where the camera becomes even more jumpy and you can feel real fear making its way inside of you and even though these moments are few and far between they’re incredibly refreshing, truly reminiscent of the better sequences from Cloverfield.
Alas, the film’s main flaw is that during the moments where the screen isn’t being filled by a troll, the film has a tendency to sink into tedium. Some conversations drag on, characters never really develop and it’s almost like these conversations are just endless filler between the better sequences in the film, just there to pad the story out before it reaches its dramatic conclusion. Due to this, the film has a pace that’s rather jolty and never quite achieves a normal flow, allowing the film to feel like it has overstayed its welcome about 3/4 of the way into its running time.
Despite errors of judgment on André Øvredal’s behalf he has created an effective mockumentary. When it gets into its element it’s quite a film. However it just takes far too long to get into it, almost forgetting that it has an audience to please. Interesting and rewarding if you can forgive more than its surface flaws.
Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, Jay Crosbie (September ’11)
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