My Favourite Horror Film: Troll Hunter
Okay, I have to admit that this is just as much a comedy as it is a horror film. That still doesn’t stop it from being the film I’ve watched each Halloween for the past few years since its release in 2011. This being because I’ve always had the same problem with most horror films; they’re not scary, or in most cases, any good. They have a tendency to start off promising, building tension from the get go, yet ultimately leaning toward the ridiculous in the latter stages, killing off all those snuggly shudders you felt in the opening. Troll Hunter, however, embraces the absurd from the onset and never lets up.
A found footage mockumentary from Norway, Troll Hunter is seen through the lens of three student filmmakers as they follow alleged bear poacher Hans, yet quickly uncover a conspiracy deep within the Norwegian landscape. Hans has the fantastic job of killing trolls that enter the more populated regions of Norway in order to keep them a secret; through his job dissatisfaction however, he allows the crew to document his investigations into a string of rogue trolls and reveal the truth to the world. Before I go on, don’t let the term ‘found footage’ put you off watching this. Since The Blair Witch Project there have been an array of great hits and terrible misses within the genre, but I must assert that this is among the best of the bunch – if not the best I’ve seen yet.
The filmmakers here chose to produce a film that pokes fun at it’s subject matter rather than taking itself completely serious, and made the right decision in doing so. The trolls are gigantic and intimidating, but possess this animal-like idiocy as they sniff the air in search of Hans and his crew; it’s slapstick comedy at times, except with giant three headed beasts. The addition of the Troll Security Service, a group of suited men that seem to have been plucked straight from The X-Files, is a little humorous touch which also adds a bit of a mystery to the whole scenario. Don’t expect a Scary Movie style parody however, Troll Hunter is a lot more subtle in it’s approach to humour than we are used to from across the pond.
That isn’t to say that Troll Hunter is pure hilarity throughout. In fact, certain scenes have the ability to strike awe – or even terror into the audience. The final scene with Jotnar, a two hundred foot tall behemoth to rival Godzilla is absolutely outstanding. I’ve never felt such a feeling of isolation in the face of an overwhelming foe. This is also thanks to the outstandingly vast Norwegian landscape presented throughout the film. Chase scenes can also be surprisingly tense, along with one specific scene involving a christian in a cave…but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
I’ve read over and over that to truly ‘get’ this film you have to be from Norway, yet don’t believe this to be the case at all (unless you don’t like reading subtitles). It might help, but the references to Norwegian folklore littered throughout aren’t exactly the most obscure. Hans baiting the troll under the bridge with the goats as an homage to the Three Billy Goats Gruff was a hilarious throwback to my most beloved childhood story, and the moment it cemented itself as one of my favourite films. Also, did you know that power lines in Norway aren’t really power lines? They’re giant electrical fences built to keep trolls in!
Troll Hunter, for me, epitomises what is so great about Halloween. Because lets face it, it’s not even trying to be scary anymore. As you get older spooky skeletons and evil witch costumes are replaced by Batman villains and…cats; and apple bobbing starts to make a lot less sense than it did years ago – if it ever did. Everything just becomes a bit of a mockery of what we once considered horrifying. This makes Troll Hunter my film of choice during the season; it’s brilliant in the way it contains elements from the more famous found footage/monster movies and completely turns them on their heads. It treads a line somewhere between horror and comedy that works perfectly. It’s just pure fun, providing you don’t take it seriously.