Sunday, March 18, 2012

Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren)

2010, PG13, 103 min.
IMDB says... A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.

The 73rd Virgin says... This was the wife's idea and it turned out pretty good. Another fake horror documentary with more disjointed humor than you see in most movies, horror or otherwise. The IMDB trailer shows more of the special effects and amps up the excitement a bit.

The beginning is slow and the end is weak as any horror documentary must be. And it's not really a thrill a minute or a laugh a minute either, but somehow it is greater than the sum of its parts and a fun ride. I don't have much patience with horror that wants to be comedy, but if Tremors or Army of Darkness are the standard then this isn't too far behind.

Otto Jesperson as the Troll Hunter is so good you wonder if it wouldn't have been more entertaining as a regular movie. The "teenagers", as the subtitled translation puts it, are supposed to be a student journalist team, including a callow but funny youth (Glenn Erland Tosterud) as the on-camera reporter, a cameraman, and a plucky sound girl, who have been tracking suspicious bear deaths that seem to follow wherever a "poacher" has been sighted. They eventually get a glimpse of his real job which involves dispatching trolls with a kind of UVB sunlight beam and trying to figure out why they've begun moving out of the wilderness and into occupied areas.

Dead bears are delivered by a slapstick team of Polish painters and "Finn" the wildlife official who has made note of the student journalists. There are a bunch of very funny details presented with deadpan Nordic fatalism. For example, here the hunter fills out paperwork that gets every detail right as the kind of quasi-scientific survey one would expect bureaucrats to produce in triplicate.

In another, the hunter receives orders to collect a blood sample.

Eventually the cameraman is outed as a Christian at a most unfortunate moment. Without missing a beat the team gets another camerawoman - filmed through a broken lens - who thinks she is there to film northern musk ox. As luck would have it, she's a Muslim, which leads to the funniest moment of drollery I've seen in a long time:

The special effects are good in a way that I guess I've just come to expect and I've avoided showing much of them. The clips and the trailer don't do justice to the remarkable Norwegian scenery. There is a fair amount of camera-running-through-the-dark footage.

I won't spoil the fun with a clip of the end but the hunter takes them into the far north to find a "Jotnar" which is an unimaginably huge subspecies. A Norwegian version of "What a Friend We Have In Jesus" played over a loudspeaker comes into play. Even as the hunter receives a cellphone call with blood test results and the power for his light and music go out, he is typically unflappable and undistracted. If none of this sounds funny, well, it just is. I would see a sequel just to watch Jespersen draw from his bottomless well of world weary competence, and to enjoy the director's feather-light touch.

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