Friday, 5 September 2014

Andre Ovredal - Troll Hunter

Four years ago I had the perverse pleasure of seeing Andre Ovredal's wonderfully terrifying "Troll Hunter" for the first time and several viewings later it remains one of my favourite films of recent times, and one which I love and am fascinated by in equal measure.

Unlike the majority of my film blogs this is unique as it contains just one film, but what a film it is and what an astonishing achievement. Written by Andre, he also wrote and directed his first feature film, 2000's "Future Murder" and following the huge success of Troll Hunter, rumours abound that a Hollywood remake is sure to follow. The original, appraised here, is a very hard act to follow indeed.

It is not my intention to provide huge spoilers for the coming film but rather my purpose is to give a flavour for the film as I do not want to spoil this superb film for you in any way. I have aimed to provide just 5-10% of the film as a taster and in a slightly different way by dissecting a specific scene as a particular insight.

I sincerely write all of my blogs from a fan's perspective and I hope you enjoy them, and if your new to my film blogs I hope you enjoy this specific, one off blog. There are many more to choose from within my archives!

Troll Hunter (2010)

"It isn't very smart to follow me"

This fantastic and atmospheric film opens and closes with disclaimers (of sorts!) but leaving plot spoilers aside, within the opening disclaimer it is asserted that the following is "authentic". This English subtitled film is supposedly a genuinely recorded account of three motivated and determined young students from Volda College on the trail of Norway's one and only troll hunter. Trying to decipher fact from fairy tale fiction the students "Thomas" (Glenn Erland Tosterud) is the group's nominal and fearless leader, "Kalle" (Tomas Alf Larsen) and "Johanna" (Johanna Morck) immediately follow their prized prey, Norway's unknown but gruff and reluctant troll hunter "Hans" (Otto Jespersen) as he traverses the beautiful Norwegian countryside resplendent with jaw dropping waterfalls, mountains, rivers and fjords. Despite the near constant rain, the wonderful surroundings are elegantly shot and become very much a further character in this compelling story.

Following in the tradition of films such as Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity or more presciently The Blair Witch Project, the film is captured on hand held camera and follows the vein of similar "found footage" films of recent times. Operated by Kalle, who is rarely seen on camera aside from one of the film's most claustrophobic scenes, Johanna also reinforces both the realistic and authentic nature of capturing the found footage by carrying and operating the boom sound microphone and this is frequently heightened by Thomas' "to camera" narration and updates to be included within the documentary. The students may be young and seeking an impossibly sounding story, however they are equally professionally equipped and determined to film their goal as the story unfolds before them. The realism of filming such a documentary (now called a Mockumentary in today's vernacular) is heightened throughout the film as the camera constantly shakes from running, jumping, or is dropped and at one point the lens is shattered, but as with it's esteemed predecessors such as The Blair Witch Project, the camera continues to record. But what is it recording exactly?

There are further incidental characters along the way such as "Finn Haugen" (Hans Morten Hansen) and Veterinarian "Hilde" (Torunn Lodemel Stokkeland) but it is the three students and Hans who naturally dominate the screen time, along with those fabled and pesky trolls, obviously! They are simply amazingly created, balancing between cartoonish fairy tale and utter terror brilliantly, and far beyond the expectations of our students. But it's Hans who propels the story and large credit must be paid to Otto Jespersen for his wonderful performance as the deadpan, straight and ultra professional troll hunter. Reluctantly agreeing to allow the three students to join him, he never strays from being matter of fact or meticulous in everything he does and remains dedicated to his "shitty job" despite the drawbacks and the attentions of three overly ambitious young students. When together, whether eating breakfast or within the confines of Hans' cramped and smelly caravan, the back story is further explained and these scenes are key:

Methodical and meticulous as ever, during breakfast Hans completes a TSS form (Troll Security Service) and whilst doing so he confirms to the students the types of troll he hunts and the sub groups of "Ringlefinch", "Tosserlad" and "Rimetosser".

"Trolls are animals. Predators. They eat, shit and mate. They will eat anything".

Within the cramped confines of his troll stink infested caravan, with walls adorned with troll tails, drawings of trolls and maps of their territories, Hans remains matter of fact on his subsistence existence and his inability to sleep in the dark.

With night time scenes that are equal parts horrifying and brilliantly imagined and created, Andre Ovredal tells this intriguing tale superbly through the prism of three idealistic students and a gruff, disaffected older man all seeking the truth. Surreal and strange, and very blackly comedic at times, this has become a firm favourite of mine in recent years and if you can suspend your disbelief for 103 minutes, it may become a firm favourite of yours too. But just remember.......


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