It’s always comforting to know that if English speaking territories are slacking in the horror department then foreign territories will pick up the slack. Trollhunter is one of these refreshing movies that has come along and bowled almost everyone over; critics and genre fans alike.
The first thing to mention would be that it’s a cam horror flick. A group of film students follow a man who they believe to be a poacher, nothing revolutionary there but it is believable and lends itself well to this sub genre. As the title of the movie gives the game away you know that all is not what it seems and wait with bated breath for the inevitable to happen. So after tracking the man and following him into the eerie woods in the dead of night I waited, hoping that I would not be disappointed; I most certainly was not.
When a films joy is the subtlety of its scares and the encouragement of the audience to use its imagination, it’s praised. Trollhunter starts like this, the darkness adds a shroud of mystery and noises add a distinct paranoia and fear. A frantic chase ensues when you catch a glimpse here and there, left wondering how much they will show. When we finally lay our eyes upon one of the said trolls I realised that they would not be confined to the shadows, like in so many camhorror films, but we would see them in all their terrifying glory. The effects are amazing and I could not have been more glad that it laid its subtlety to rest.
As the young students travel with the troll hunter we get a wonderful insight into his life and a rich back story is developed. As I discovered new kinds of trolls and the protocol in place to keep them secret I became more and more captivated (even if you must suspend disbelief occasionally). For me he really steals the show. His torn emotions over the duties he performs and his bitterness towards a government that dominated his life are woven beautifully into the story. The students only real purpose is to provide prompts for the story.
If you are looking for a film with a definite direction then this is not for you. It meanders, then offers snippets of explosive action before eddying again. It’s a wonderful snapshot into the dark underbelly of Norway. We all fancy that there is a trove of fantastical secrets that are kept from us and for an hour and a half we get to believe that this one just might be true. This is not a film to be missed and a highlight of last year’s film calendar.