The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for. In some cases, it has inspired some brilliant movies. Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield are better movies because of the found footage style that the original horror movie pioneered but there is also a glut of movie utilising the style when it isn’t necessary or just masks poor performances or effects.
Troll Hunter isn’t one of these films though. It has some decent performances. It also has great effects, realising the trolls in a brilliant detail and making them very scary and threatening when they need to be. This is the issue I have, by making the film a found footage movie, you take away some of the potential thrill and excitement that the movie teases.
If you are going to put in the effort to design and create a range of different trolls for our heroes to battle and investigate, you might as well present them in full glory. This means that we want huge camera shots, trolls filling the screen and some actually scary moments that show genuine threat. The found footage element removes this. We never properly get to see these great trolls. We have a lot of moments of panic and running, seeing a jumpy floor or a collection of rustling trees. Rather than increase the threat, making it more personal, it actually removes the bite from the movie, making it much less scary.
It also means we get a lack of character development too. We can only see characters as they are presented to the person holding the camera. It helps to build mystery around the titular troll hunter, played in a gruff, grimy way by Otto Jesperson, but once we have actually met the hero, we never get to know his character.
There is also a great arc involving one of the younger characters, who gets bitten by a troll early on. This is a slow build story and we get a decent revelation later on but it then goes no where, never giving us the payoff that the rest of the movie seems to promise.
It becomes a running issue through the movie. Huge promises and foreshadowing’s are made but they are never fully realised on-screen. It all seems to culminate with the biggest, baddest troll of all but when the finale is seen from a distant, through a grainy camera, you can’t help but feel cheated. I want to see a troll being properly hunted, not like poor footage of Bigfoot.
Overall, Troll Hunter had great potential and could have been a fantastic monster movie. Its got a cool hero, some decent underlying stories to go with the fantastically designed monsters. Unfortunately, the filmmakers rely on the over-used found footage which means we get shaky footage, under-developed characters and a lack of action that takes all the punch and fear out of the movie.
Rating – 2.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)