Staff Recommendation/ Troll Hunter

Cornerhouse AV Techician Dave Petty recommends André Øvredal’s film Troll Hunter

It’s nice, every once in a while, to have a poster hanging in Cornerhouse’s cinema foyer that captures people’s attention almost without fail. When you see a dark, snow-bound road, a bedraggled land rover, a huge pair of hirsute legs straddling it and the title Troll Hunter screaming at you in a battle-scarred vomit yellow font, it tends to stand out from what one might consider our more ‘regular’ fare. In fact on first impressions, it has the very real capacity to put an audience off, despite their curiosity. But this is no B-movie exploitation horror, no highfalutin video nasty-cum-arthouse hybrid. This is fun, clever, adrenaline-rush filmmaking that, while admittedly spawned from a host of influences, is steadfastly a beast all of its own.

It’s the kind of film you don’t want to say too much about for fear of ruining the fun for everyone else. Wrapping proceedings up in a mockumentary style (already well-trodden territory with the likes of [REC], Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project), we follow a group of three college students hoping to gain some kind of exclusive with lone hunter Hans (played with expert deadpan delivery by comedian Otto Jespersen), who’s methods and motives for an apparent spate of bear killings are shrouded in mystery. His land rover is covered with deep gouges and claw marks, a tungsten light array toted with him at all times, his caravan draped in herbs with a suspiciously vile smell emanating from within. And, as the team slowly gain his trust and follow him into the fjords and remote woodlands of Norway, their ever-present camera reveals him to be hunting anything but bears.

The trolls themselves are tragically beautiful, as ridiculous as they are frightening, immaculately conceived and quite unlike anything you may have seen before on the big screen (the monsters of Where The Wild Things Are pale in comparison to the size of some of these fellas). The location photography too verges on the awe-inspiring, considering half the time it’s throwaway shots from the inside of a car. But it’s the tone of the film that sets this apart from its contemporaries. It delves into comedy without being too silly; it has moments of tension without becoming a full-blown horror, never over-stepping the mark or breaking any internal logic it sets up. And as with all ‘found footage’ films, it relies almost entirely on the believability of its protagonists – safe to say, Troll Hunter’s main players and supporting cast are pitch-perfect, Jespersen in particular a revelation, a man who’s the only one of his kind, weathered and brow-beaten, finally finding a way he might escape his “dirty work” once and for all.

For those of you who feel the mockumentary has been done to death, I urge you to give Troll Hunter a go – the obligatory American remake is already in the works, and it’d be a crying shame for the original to go under the radar when there’s so much fun to be had in its 103 minutes. You’ll never look at pylons in the same way again.