Trollhunter (Norwegian: Trolljegeren; UK: Troll Hunter; Canada: The Troll Hunter) is a 2010 Norwegian dark fantasy film, made as a "found footage" mockumentary. It is written and directed by André Øvredal and features a mixed cast of relatively unknown actors and well-known Norwegian comedians, including Otto Jespersen. Trollhunter received positive reviews from Norwegian critics. It opened on 10 June 2011 in the US to a mostly positive critical reception.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||André Øvredal|
|Written by||André Øvredal|
|Edited by||Per-Erik Eriksen|
|Distributed by||SF Norge A/S|
|Budget||NOK 19 million|
|Box office||NOK 24 million|
A group of students from Volda University College, Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and their cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), set out to make a documentary about a suspected bear poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen). At the site of an illegally slain bear they interview local hunters, who comment that the bear tracks look odd, as well as Finn Haugen (Hans Morten Hansen), head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board. Finn dismisses the idea that the bear tracks could have been faked. The students follow Hans in an attempt to secure an interview but he continually rebuffs them. After following him into a forest at night time, they see mysterious flashing lights and hear roars. Hans comes running back, screaming "Troll!" Thomas is attacked and bitten by a large animal. They escape in Hans's Land Rover and discover their own vehicle turned over with the tyres ripped off. Hans admits that he does not hunt bears, but trolls. Though sceptical, the students ask if they can join Hans and film his hunt, to which he consents on the condition that they do as he instructs.
The next day Hans makes them disguise themselves with "troll stench" (a slimy concentrate made from "everything you can squeeze out of a troll") and checks if any of them believe in God or Jesus, because a troll can smell a Christian man's blood. Hans wields a "flash gun", a weapon that emits powerful UV-rays to simulate sunlight and turn trolls to stone, though he comments that sometimes the trolls "just explode" depending on how old they are. The students are stunned when Hans flushes out a giant three-headed troll. Hans manages to turn the troll to stone and explains to the students that he only allowed them to come along because he's tired of working for little compensation and wants them to divulge the truth. Finn, who actually works for the Troll Security Service (TSS), arrives with a team to deposit a bear carcass and plant fake tracks, and tells the students that they will not be allowed to keep their tapes. In a series of interviews, Hans reveals that Finn's work is to keep trolls a secret, while his is to kill any that come near populated areas. He also explains that the trolls have been acting aggressively lately and have begun to leave their territories more often than usual, and that he must get a troll blood sample to try to determine why.
The students accompany Hans on another hunt using live goats on a bridge as bait. Hans successfully obtains a blood sample from a bridge troll and takes it to a veterinarian who works for the TSS, but finds that it will take several days before any results can be found. Investigating a farm where a number of trees have been uprooted, Hans and the film crew find troll tracks leading into an abandoned mine, the lair of a pack of trolls. The trolls return unexpectedly and the group is trapped inside. The situation gets more tense as Kalle confesses that he is a Christian. The trolls eventually smell Kalle's scent and discover the group. In a panic the group runs for the safety of daylight at the cave entrance, but Kalle is killed.
The replacement camerawoman is Malica, a Muslim; Hans is uncertain about how trolls will react to that. Finn demands that Hans head north to troll territory to get the problem under control. The group finds signs of a Jotnar, a giant mountain troll 50–100 metres tall. Thomas falls ill, and they learn that the troll blood sample came back positive for rabies; Thomas has been infected by the bite he received several days earlier.
After several attempts, Hans manages to kill the Jotnar by launching a rocket-like projectile that transforms the troll into stone. He directs the others to find the highway. Finn and his government agents arrive to confiscate the students' tapes. Thomas flees with the camera and is seen collapsing at the side of a road when the tape cuts out. Just before the cut to black a truck is seen stopping next to the camera. Presumably the driver is the person who "found the footage". An epilogue tells the audience that none of the students were heard from again. The film ends with a news clip of the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appearing to admit to the existence of trolls, though the press fails to take notice.
- Otto Jespersen as Hans the trollhunter
- Hans Morten Hansen as Finn
- Tomas Alf Larsen as Kalle
- Johanna Mørck as Johanna
- Knut Nærum as a power company manager
- Robert Stoltenberg as a Polish bear hunter
- Glenn Erland Tosterud as Thomas
- Urmila Berg-Domaas as Malica
- Torunn Lødemel Stokkeland as Hilda, a veterinarian
Filming took place in the forests and mountains of Western Norway, and actress Johanna Mørck called it an exhausting experience. According to director André Øvredal, the team tried to maintain maximum secrecy around the project. They kept both the title and cast secret until shortly before the première, dropping cryptic teasers to create a viral effect.
For the film's final scene, a clip of former Norwegian Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg speaking about an oil field outside Norway called the Troll Field was edited to create the appearance of him admitting the existence of trolls.
In a review for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company; Birger Vestmo gave the film six out of six points and wrote that "a new Norwegian classic is born". He also applauded the film for combining Norwegian cultural elements with Hollywood cinematic flair. Dagbladet's Inger Merete Hobbelstad gave the film four points out of six and compared it to The Blair Witch Project. She complained that the dramaturgy could be better at times. The special effects she found to be of variable quality, though certain scenes were "amazing". She also highlighted Jespersen's performance as essential to the film's success. The film received four points out of six in the newspapers Klassekampen and Verdens Gang as well. Verdens Gang critic Morten Ståle Nilsen summed it up as "Better than we feared. Weaker than we could hope." Nilsen also made the comparison to The Blair Witch Project he predicted great commercial success for the film. Like Hobbelstad he appreciated Jespersen's effort.
Mode Steinkjer in Dagsavisen, gave the film five out of six points. He commended Øvredal's ability to combine "subtle humour with physical tension" and also commented on the "striking naturalness" displayed by Tosterud, Larsen and Mørck as the three students. Kjersti Nipen, on the other hand, reviewing the film for Aftenposten, gave the movie only three points out of six. She called it "flat, predictable and rather devoid of content". Although she regarded it as funny at times, Nipen found the use of the mockumentary format exhausted and overused. The review in Morgenbladet was not favourable.
Outside of Norway, Trollhunter received a positive reception from critics with an aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes currently holding an 82% 'Certified Fresh' rating. The site's consensus reads, "Trollhunter is a mockumentary with an appropriate level of creeping dread, but one that also benefits from generous helpings of dry wit."
Mike Hale of The New York Times called it a "clever and engaging mock documentary" with "ultradry Nordic humor", though "about 20 percent too long" with "more traveling shots through car windows of the fjord-land scenery than are absolutely necessary". The special effects, while "created with a computer-graphics budget that we can assume was far short of the Hollywood standard, are surprisingly lifelike and frightening". Frank Lovece of Film Journal International praised star Jespersen for "what ought to be a star-making dramatic performance", and found the film "both a remarkably suspenseful voyage ... and a dry-witted commentary on the nature of expedient bureaucracy ... Part horror movie, part social satire, and bursting with Norway’s savage beauty ... [i]t is destined to be a classic of its kind." V. A. Musetto of the New York Post gave it three stars out of four and cautioned, "You'll want to catch this clever movie before Hollywood ruins everything with a dumb remake." British writer Ross Miller of Blog Critics gave it 4.5 stars out of 5 and said, "Troll Hunter takes what is now a conventional style of found footage filmmaking and puts a unique stamp on it ... one of the best examples of this type of film so far."
The song "Mjød" by Kvelertak is featured over the ending credits sequence, followed by "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's music for the play Peer Gynt. The latter song's quiet, downbeat ending is abruptly followed by a VFX clip, showing the family "Mountain King" trolls (the third of four troll types depicted in the movie) clawing and shrieking at the camera. While otherwise in Norwegian, the credits end with the English phrase "No trolls were harmed during the making of this movie."
Trollhunter contains many references to Norwegian culture and Norwegian folktales in particular. Among those are the belief that there are different species of trolls, such as the woodland and mountain trolls, which can be further categorised into subspecies as in the film. The most well-known is probably the Mountain King, which is mentioned in the play Peer Gynt and its music by Edvard Grieg. The Norwegian name for Mountain King, Dovregubbe, is a compound word whose first part is used in the name for the mountain range Dovrefjell where the characters meet the final troll.
Other common troll descriptions from the Norwegian folklore which are used in the film include trolls having a tail, multiple heads, the ability to smell a Christian's blood, eating rocks, but loving meat and sometimes being man-eaters. The trolls are also described as big, old, strong, but slow and dim-witted, turning to stone when exposed to sunlight. The latter is a point emphasised in the film, as Hans uses UV light to kill the trolls. However, he also states that not everything from the tales is true.
The film also has several specific references to fairy tales. For example The Boy Who Had an Eating Match with a Troll when the camera man asks about an eating contest, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff when Hans attempts to lure a troll from under a bridge using three goats. The fairy tale Soria Moria Castle is one of the tales that tells about trolls being able to smell a Christian man's blood. A painting by Theodor Kittelsen based on the same fairy tale is also used as a backdrop on one of the trips they do in the film (Thomas stands in the same pose and asks his friends "Do I look like that famous painting?"). The look of the trolls in the film is also influenced by painters like Theodor Kittelsen and John Bauer.
As reflected by how the students answer Hans, only a fraction of Norwegians consider themselves religious or visit the church regularly, even though the majority of Norwegians are members of the state church.
The film also makes references to the often heated conflict between farmers and predators eating their livestock and the farmers' limited ability to react without breaking Norwegian wild life regulations. Similarly there are conflicts that arise when new power lines need to be passed through the landscape.
With several of the cast being comedians that are fairly well-known to the Norwegian audience, including Otto Jespersen playing Hans, it also sets the tone of the film for many. Robert Stoltenberg playing the Polish bear hunter makes that scene less serious, and plays on xenophobic stereotypes that most Norwegian immigrants are from Poland, often speak mediocre Norwegian or English, do what they are told without asking questions and often do the work Norwegians won't do themselves.
Prior to the theatrical release of Trollhunter, producers John M. Jacobsen and Sveinung Golimo had been given requests for the film to be remade. As a result, both had travelled to the United States to meet with stakeholders. When the film opened in the United States the following year, Deadline Hollywood announced that director Chris Columbus' company, 1492 Pictures, along with CJ Entertainment & Media, had acquired rights to remake the film. Neil Marshall was to direct the remake. As of November 2016, however, the remake has been cancelled.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2011||Amanda Award||Best Visual Effects (Årets visuelle effekter)||Oystein Larsen & Marcus B. Brodersen||Won|
|Public Choice Award||André Øvredal||Won|
|Best Actor (Årets mannlige skuespiller)||Otto Jespersen||Nominated|
|Best Editing (Årets klipp)||Per-Erik Eriksen||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay (Årets filmmanuskript)||André Øvredal||Nominated|
|Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival||Silver Raven Award for Best Director||Nominated|
|Newport Beach Film Festival||Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking||Won|
|2012||17th Empire Awards||Best Horror||Trollhunter||Nominated|
|38th Saturn Awards||Best International Film||Nominated|
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Foreign-Language Film||Nominated|
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- Haugsbø, Frank; Nervik, Stein; Bondø, Tor-Hartvig; Henriksen, Thor Harald (8 December 2011). "Det eksisterer ikke polakkarbeid, bare arbeid" [There is no such thing as Polish work, only work]. E24 (in Norwegian). Retrieved 6 October 2013.
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- Official website
- Trollhunter on IMDb
- Trollhunter at Rotten Tomatoes
- Trollhunter at Box Office Mojo
- Trolljegeren at Filmweb.no (in Norwegian)