You know a movie’s left a positive impression when the first thing you Google search afterwards is “species of trolls.” And no, not the ones you find in Internet comment sections and forums, you cheeky jerks.
The Oscar nominations have been announced, and it’s go time for binging all of the nominated films, even the snubs. Like almost every year, the Best Picture category is a healthy mixture of films that either engage the mind, the heart or both. Not only are watching them fun because they’re some of the best of the best, but also because it’s nice to have something to root for whenever a presenter says, “And the Academy Award goes to…” But even during this time of year, it behooves one to have a good ol’ party movie waiting in the wings. One that’s more than worth revisiting, or watching for the first time with a big group of friends is Troll Hunter.
If you think about it, foreign genre films are best suited for big parties than any other type. Those at these gatherings will have previously seen it will be free to talk to friends or new acquaintances and occasionally glance at the screen when something cool happens. And though, for English speaking audiences, foreign language somewhat hinders the possibility of quotable lines – unless there is a particularly memorable subtitle – having to read subtitles better ensures you aren’t missing out on context if you can’t quite hear the movie over nearby chatter or your own.
Getting back to that first point, viewers need not worry about exciting moments in Troll Hunter. During every interaction with trolls, there is a decent amount of suspense in the build up, and then the action comes rolling out of the gates with gleeful abandon, giving Hans the troll hunter (Otto Jespersen) more than plenty of opportunities to steal the screen much the way Quint does in Jaws. It may take quite a bit of time for the narrative to reach these points, but thanks to writer/director André Øvredal, the film makes optimal use of its mockumentary setup, telling the narrative through the guise of roughly assembled footage to keep the pacing sharp, while still ensuring the characters remain as compelling and relatable as possible.
The effects work done for the trolls is exceptionally done, as well. This may be a genre film more predicated on fun and thrills than substance, but the CGI demonstrates more than enough quality given the level of detail each species of troll receives. Not to mention, they are especially impressive considering adding effects such as these in the post-production of a found footage film cannot be easy. That attention to detail bleeds into why Trollhunter works beyond a genre film level while still admitting awareness to its simple pleasures.
Not only is Troll Hunter charmingly fun, but also it’s a testament to the importance of Norwegian culture. Obviously, being from Norway, the filmmakers would have better knowledge of the tales they grew up with as kids, but even the iconography and classic interpretation of a troll carries over its borders throughout Western culture – the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” fairy tale being a popular example. Øvredal and Co., though, do a good job of paying respect to the folklore while still flirting with genre convention, which in some cases could diminish the importance of said folklore. Even the troll design is strikingly authentic to historic artistic depictions, and some shots are reminiscent of other Norwegian artwork.
It is genuinely difficult not to find Troll Hunter enthralling in any way. It’s chock full of action, dry laughs and certainly better than most found footage films that have berthed from this trend because of these facets and many more. It’s always refreshing to see popcorn entertainment executed so well, and so well bred for house party attendees’ beer goggles. Besides, you never know when you’ll need to know the difference between a Ringlefinch and a Dovregubben to impress the next person who catches your eye.