Troll Hunter ★★★★½

Hooptober Fest 5.0
Film 22/46
Six Countries (3/6) -- Norway
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I love that Norway saw Blair Witch and was like "let's do that shit but in color and with really good digital cameras and in our mild-mannered good-natured style but then have it all be about very real very giant trolls out in the snow?"

So Trollhunter feels like Blair Witch by way of a Norwegian Christopher Guest mockumentary. A crew of student filmmakers go out into the country to shoot a documentary about a suspected bear poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen). Things take a turn for the weird when there's increasing evidence of damage by something much bigger than a bear, until Hans finally admits that he is, in fact, a covert state-sanctioned professional troll hunter. No, not the internet kind (tho THERE would be a mockumentary for ya).

Soon the young crew is following Hans on the job like a team of tornado chasers in the American midwest, and through the POV of the student filmmaker's camera lens we experience the ruthless, resilient, and sincere engagement they have with these mythical mammoth creatures. The CGI is rarely overplayed for the depiction of the trolls and the sound design proves to be just as important a tool for conveying their presence in this film's world. It's a potent brew of audio-visual cinematic sorcery used to create these trolls, and it's employed as effectively here as what Spielberg did with the T Rex in the first Jurassic Park.

Trollhunting is not without its rules and bureaucracy, and it requires a knowledge of both government and fairy tale protocol which Hans hilariously introduces to the film crew and the audience. Jespersen's excellent, underplayed performance as Hans is just as crucial to the success of the film as its handling of the trolls. Continuing the Spielberg comparison, Hans is something of a weathered Norwegian reincarnation of Captain Quint from Jaws, and your admiration for his enduring commitment to one of the most brutal battles of man vs. beast only grows as the film progresses. The "fight scenes" of Hans and the trolls deliver up the goods with tense and doomed confrontations that smack the viewer around while obliteration feels imminent. A must for fans of monster movies and visceral blockbuster disaster epics.

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