Some folks actually are of the opinion that Norway's good-natured entry into the handheld-camera, campy, horror-flick genre is a quality movie. In fact, two members of the critics group I'm in voted for Trollhunter as Best Foreign Film of 2011. Blame it on hot flashes or that the duo hadn't gotten around to viewing A Separation, The Skin I Live In, or any other film with subtitles during the past twelve months.
This debut feature by Andre Ovredal chronicles the adventures of three university film students who are attempting to make a documentary about a mysterious bear poacher. They learn to their joy and later to their chagrin that this bearded, taciturn gent, Hans (Otto Jespersen), is actually a trollhunter who's working for a secretive arm of the Norwegian government.
Trolls, at least according to Ovredal's screenplay, are gigantic, odorous creatures who devour rocks, have a fetish for charcoal, and are endowed with a deadly dislike for Christians. (Take that, Pat Robertson!) These ogres are also suffering from an inability to synthesize Vitamin D. So how do you kill them? With sunlight, genuine or artificial.
For more information, let's turn to a moment of clarifying dialog.
Thomas (one of the students): "How many types of trolls are there?"
Hans: "You have two main groups: mountain trolls and woodland trolls. The subgroups include Ringlefinch, Tosserlad, Rimetosser, Mountain Kings. The Harding out west."
Thomas: "But that troll we saw.... Do they all have three heads?"
For that reply, go rent the DVD, now available from Magnolia Home Entertainment in all of its B-movie glory. But don't be prepared to scream your head off in fear. Expect to giggle. The trolls here all are the spitting image of Muppets with a hyperthyroid problem. In fact, imagine a Sweetums doll after three wash cycles.
What's intriguing about this whole venture is that the Norwegian government is depicted as a miniature U.S. knockoff. These officials situated amongst their country's fjords withhold pertinent information from their citizens, disguise defense spending as electrical projects, and do away quietly with troublingly inquisitive taxpayers.
Ah, well, a democracy is a democracy no matter where you trek. - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Gay Identity in Literature" and "The Arts in New York City" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton).