Jun 12, 2011

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren)

Director: Andre Øvredal
Release Date: Australia TBC
Rating: TBC
Runtime: 103 mins

As the first film in Sydney Film Festival's Freak Me Out programming, The Troll Hunter (original name Trolljegeren) from Norwegian director Andre Øvredal sets standards high for future films in the section. In a throwback to 1999's The Blair Witch Project, the opening titles claim that the material we are about to see is authentic and to be believed on all fronts. Just the very notion of this statement elicits a chortle and thus begins the F.U.N. 

Three students set out to document and film the alleged bear poacher, Hans (comedian and actor Otto Jespersen), but it soon becomes apparent his evasiveness has little to do with the illegal killing of Yogis. Set deep within the Fjords of Norway, the juxtaposition between the beautiful scenery and the deliberately amateurish jump cuts functions convincingly to place The Troll Hunter firmly within the mockumentarygenre.

When our fearless threesome Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud),  Johanna (Johanna Mørck), and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) follow Hans into the woods, their confidence crumbles following a series of guttural groans (like listening to any Slavic language amplified) and flashes of light; Hans comes crashing along the forest floor screaming 'Trooooolllllllllll!'. The Trolljegeren has indeed arrived.

One element The Troll Hunter does particularly well is keeping the humour fresh but recognisable, with smatterings of pop culture references foreign viewers will likely appreciate. A keen Thomas (the presenter of the bunch) admonishes his frustrated colleagues with 'Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?'. Writer and director Andre Øvredal invents his own twisted mythology, species' of troll, and methods for dealing with them: yes, it's confirmed —all signs point to hilarious. 

The visual effects work on this film should also get a mention for quality; the trolls are disgusting, and quite terrifyly, angrier than say...John McEnroe? Yes, that's a pretty accurate account. With lashings of ridiculousity, The Troll Hunter will make you its disciple and then cover you in slime. No matter, because you'll be enjoying smart laughs right the way through. Stay for the credits and you'll be rewarded in the form of a song so fitting, John Williams may just quit his day job. Take a guess in the comments.

The Troll Hunter is playing again at Sydney Film Festival, Event Cinemas, Friday 17 June at 8.30pm. 
P.S. - In baffling news, Chris Columbus (director of Home Alone and the first two Potter films) has bagged the American remake rights to The Troll Hunter, reports Empire. The only foreseeable upside to this news is that it may guarantee timely, widespread distribution of the original.

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