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With: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen, Urmila Berg-Domaas, Hans Morten Hansen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum
Written by: André Øvredal
Directed by: André Øvredal
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of creature terror
Language: Norwegian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 10/29/2010

Trollhunter (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Beast Side Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by André Øvredal and imported from Norway, Trollhunter (also shown as "The Troll Hunter") is a fictitious documentary, much like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, with a dash of Man Bites Dog thrown in; it even begins with that deadly old prologue about how this footage was discovered and is being presented as found, etc. But what this movie does differently is to add a wonderful sense of humor to the proceedings.

Our college-age documentary crew squabbles amongst themselves and shakes the camera around a bit before they discover the title character, the troll hunter, played by a famous Norwegian comedian Otto Jespersen; it takes them a while to get close to him and to earn his trust, but when they do, the movie takes off. The troll hunter's job is to patrol the land and keep tabs on the various species of trolls that live there. He's allowed to hunt and kill trolls that escape or get out of control. It's during one of these hunts that the students accidentally capture some remarkable troll footage and the hunter decides to explain.

Writer/director Øvredal cooks up an astonishing amount of troll lore, including names of species, mating habits, diet, lifespan, and much more, including a scientific explanation as to what turns them to stone. In one of the funniest scenes, the troll hunter and the film crew visit a power station, where the workers have never once realized that the grid runs in a circle (it's really a huge electric fence).

Everything comes to a remarkable showdown against a giant troll, the Jotnar. With a fairly small budget, Øvredal gets a overwhelming sense of size and scale in this tense chase and fight scene. It's quite exciting (and will be better viewed on the big screen).

Aside from the wonderful details and the dry sense of humor, I loved the idea that this last of earth's professions, which is supposed to be kept totally secret, would finally succumb to a reality-show grilling on camera. It's a wry and subtle commentary on our media-obsessed world.

Jespersen gives a wonderful performance as the jaded hunter, though the college students are fairly interchangeable, I'm afraid. Regardless, this is one of the most unusual and entertaining of genre films this year, and will most certainly be among the more entertaining movies out this summer.

Magnet Releasing has conjured up an amazing-looking Blu-Ray, with an alternate English-dubbed track for Americans. Extras include deleted scenes, improv and bloopers, extended scenes, a featurette on the visual effects, a "behind the scenes" look, photo galleries, and an HDNet featurette.

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