Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TROLLHUNTER

While I'm not a big fan of the "found footage" subgenre of horror films kicked off by 1999's THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, neither do I have any strong feelings against those kind of faux-documentaries, and have enjoyed - to varying degrees - similar movies like CLOVERFIELD and George Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD. The latest of these mockumentaries to grace my DVD player is the 2011 Norwegian monster movie, TROLLHUNTER, recently unleashed on DVD by Magnet/Magnolia Home Entertainment.

A group of college documentarians investigating a suspicious spate of bear attacks in the mountains and forests of Norway become fascinated by a strange man they believe is a poacher. They follow and videotape him, and soon discover that he is, in fact, secretly working for the Norwegian government as a Trolljegeren (troll hunter). That's right, the giant, bloodthirsty ogres of Scandinavian fable are real, and have started wandering out of their regular, isolated territories. The students persuade the troll hunter, Hans (Otto Jespersen) to let them accompany him and document his work, but soon find themselves risking life and limb at the gargantuan hands of the nocturnal titans...

As directed by André Øvredal, TROLLHUNTER is a fun creature feature that suffers from some of the same problems as many of these "found footage" flicks. A lot of the running time between encounters with the truly impressive and frightening trolls is comprised of repetitive back-and-forth banter between the young filmmakers, mundane minutiae, or "travelogue" footage shot through car windows. Now, admittedly, the Norwegian scenery is truly gorgeous, but after a while, it does begin to feel like padding.

On the other hand, once the characters begin interacting with the night-stalking trolls, and Hans starts to explain the nature of the beasties and his experiences with them, the film is riveting. The special effects are utterly convincing (the low-light, shaky, hand-held videography covers any flaws in the CGI animation perfectly), and the scenes with the trolls themselves - which look like they stepped right out of a grim fairy tale - are fantastic, harrowing, and chillingly believable.

And... the twenty-something documentarians of TROLLHUNTER are portrayed as considerably less self-absorbed and annoying than similar characters in other "found footage" fright flix, and that made the movie more enjoyable, too.

The DVD from Magnet/Magnolia Home Entertainment is solid, with an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in the original Norwegian and an English dub. English and Spanish  subtitles are available. Bonus material includes deleted scenes, extended scenes, improv bits, and bloopers, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and still galleries. Trailers for various other Magnet/Magnolia releases are also included. The title is also available on Blu-ray, but I was not sent one for review.

Your enjoyment of TROLLHUNTER will depend, primarily, on your tolerance of the bouncy, hand-held, mockumentary style of the filmmaking, and your patience. But once the titular troll hunting kicks in, it's a genuinely thrilling, entertaining monster flick, and worth seeking out. I liked it a lot.

Recommended.

BUY: Trollhunter

BUY: Trollhunter [Blu-ray]