TrollHunter - 4 out of 5
Ever since The Blair Witch Project earned it's weight in gold times a thousand at the box office, found footage films have become all the rage. Now, I'll admit, I enjoyed The Blair Witch Project because they marketed that film like a boss and it was something that wasn't seen at the time. However, since then, we've seen people taking that formula but forgetting that you need to have some semblance of an entertaining story and good actors to accompany your shaking video camera. Cloverfield, I felt, was pretty entertaining but for the most part, most of these found footage films aren't worth finding in the first place. George Romero tried it with Diary of the Dead and it made me wonder if he's gone senile as it single-handily made his previous epic works look like he made them that way by accident. Then we had to suffer from the very non-frightening Paranormal Activity and it's downright pitiful sequel, cleverly named, Paranormal Activity 2. I guess the motto for that one was, "Hey, the first one sucked but people paid money to see it, so why not see if they'll do it again." However, leave it to the Norwegians to take our already stale formula and revamp it with TrollHunter.
The film starts off reeking of found footage cliches as text pops up claiming that the following film was delivered by an unknown sender. What we see is some college students out filming what they originally believe to be a poacher out to kill bears but what they discover is entirely something different. The man is actually someone who hunts the once believed to be works of childrens' fiction; Trolls. I guess you can call him a Troll Hunter! Hey, that's where the title comes from! The students then decide to follow him as he tries to figure out what is happening to the local troll population as they start to exhibit erratic and unpredictable behavior.
If you guessed that this is the man who hunts trolls, you are wrong. He's a clown at kids' birthday parties.
I really dug this movie and was even more excited by the fact that it lived up to the expectations I had for it from the trailer. Despite it's absolutely fantastic story, they were able to keep the film grounded (something a lot of found footage films aren't capable of doing) and actually made the trolls believable and real. Even more interesting about it is how they incorporated all the real folklore of trolls and added it to science in order to create a new mythology around the beasts. They even included the good old, "Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman," into the mix. In fact, the way they included that was really cool--Trolls can actually smell if you're a Christian or not. Good thing I'm an atheist. I guess I can take up troll hunting!
Also, unlike found footage films like Paranormal Activity, this movie actually contained some really convincing actors and, also unlike other found footage films, I never found myself wondering why certain scenes remained in the film. Throughout the boring beginning of Paranormal Activity (not to be confused with the boring middle or really boring end) I kept asking myself, "Why would the authorities keep the footage of the two unlikeable people arguing over stupid stuff like they're annoying relationship, in the film? There's no need for it." But in TrollHunter, I never found myself with this question because every scene is important to what's going on, whether it be the crew learning lessons from the wise old hunter or everyone being knee-deep in troll shit as all hell breaks loose.
TrollHunter is one of those films that does what it promises and does it well. Sure the special effects aren't up to par with most of the big budget Hollywood effects movies but they're not completely terrible either. The trolls look real enough and I found myself so engrossed in the film's story that it was easily to lose myself and see the trolls as an actual part of the film's environments. The film ends up becoming a real-life fairytale that ends up becoming too real. It would almost become whimsical if it wasn't for the real danger that those giant trolls could make you their midnight snack.