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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: TrollHunter

August 22nd, 2011

TrollHunter - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

TrollHunter, or as it is sometimes known as, The Troll Hunter, Troll Hunter, and in the original Norwegian, Trolljegeren. The film opened in limited release to a lot more buzz than most films do, but despite great reviews, it never really found an audience. Now that it is out on DVD and Blu-ray, will more people want to see the film? And if so, is the DVD or the Blu-ray worth picking up?

The Movie

The film starts with a few intertitles explaining how this film was cut together from hours and hours of found footage and that experts believe it to be authentic. I really hate it when filmmakers try to claim a horror film is based on real life events, just as a cheap way of selling a movie. However, this movie is so clearly not based on real life events, that I'm more willing to give the filmmakers a pass.

We then cut to the film within a film and a group of three college students (Thomas, the interviewer; Kalle, the cameraman; and Johanna, sound) making a documentary about a hunter named Hans, who is widely suspected of poaching bears. Since the number of legal bear hunting licenses issued is so small, the bear hunting community knows each other, and they know this guy is not hunting bears legally. He's also well known enough to have a bit of a reputation for being... eccentric would be an understatement. (He has bunches of thyme hanging from his trailer.) They try to interview him a couple of times, but he's less than welcoming.

After a couple of failed attempts to follow him to his hunting ground, they manage to track him down in the wilderness of Norway. But when they do, they discover he's not hunting bears, but something much bigger. He's hunting trolls. (This would normally be a major twist and a spoiler, but it's the name of the movie, so I think we can let it slide.) Despite the evidence they see (their car has been flipped on its side and the tires eaten, for instance) they are initially reluctant to believe Hans. Hans does agree to let them film his hunt, but they have to follow his rules. Firstly, he makes sure none of them are Christian, because trolls can smell Christian blood. Secondly, he makes them all clean thoroughly and then rub themselves with Troll musk, to get rid of their human scent. After that, it's into the woods, but they are still not sure if this guy is nuts or not.

They soon get their proof.

This really is a strange movie and it's one that is hard to categorize, even broadly. It's not technically a horror film, there are some comedic moments in the movie, but it's not technically a comedy either. I think it is most like a straight documentary, but obviously fake. Because of this, well, strangeness, your expectations might play an even larger role in your opinion of the movie than normal. Unfortunately, I think the less you know the better.

It does have some weaknesses, many of which are shared by most films in the genre. For instance, shaky cam. I hate the shaky cam style and too often action scenes are nearly impossible to follow as a result. The film also takes place mostly at night and in the dark, which also makes following the action scenes harder still. On the other hand, it does make good use of old mythology to create a set of rules that seems to be consistent and at least somewhat based on reality. (There is the problem of some Trolls being too big to exist, as their muscles wouldn't be large enough to lift their bodies.) The special effects are better than expected given the limited budget. There are some humorous scenes that help lighten the mood, including a satirical look at how government bureaucracy would fit into the picture if there were Trolls that needed slaying, but had to be kept secret from the populace. On the other hand, there were also many scenes that moved just a little too slowly and that led to pacing issues.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD start with five deleted scenes with a total running time of three and a half minutes, three extended scenes with a total running time of eight minutes, and two minutes of outtakes and ad-libs. Up next are six minutes of special effects shots in various stages of development, which are interesting to look at, but it would have been nice to have some commentary for contest. The largest featurette runs over 23 minutes long and it comprised of several behind-the-scenes clips. There is a four-minute HDNet look at the movie, which is the only featurette in English. It's not that in-depth, which is not surprising since it is only four minutes long, but it is worth checking out. Finally there are galleries, the first with concept art on the trolls and the second with a look at the various locations in the movie.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it only costs $4 more than the DVD. $15 for a Blu-ray is hard to complain about.

The Verdict

It appears TrollHunter is in the process of being remade by an American studio and some are worried that this will ruin the movie. I think those fears are unwarranted; after all, both Let the Right One In and Let Me In are excellent movies, so hopefully that will be the case here as well.

While we are waiting to see how well the remake does, TrollHunter is worth checking out, and with better than average extras for an import and a very low price, both the DVD and the Blu-ray are worth buying, depending on whether you have made the leap to High Definition or not.

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Filed under: Video Review, Trolljegeren