The bad news is that there are trolls, some as many as 100 meters tall, wreaking havoc across regions of Norway. The good news is there’s one brave soul with the courage, brains and guile to kill them—he is the “Trollhunter.”
“Trollhunter,” like “The Blair Witch Project” before it, claims to be comprised of “found footage,” in this case tapes that were anonymously left at a Norwegian TV station. The tapes chronicle the adventures of a group of film students who start out on the trail of a bear poacher known only as Hans, who refuses to talk to them. But late one night, having followed Hans deep into the woods, they are startled to find him coming running down out of the trees screaming, “Trollllllll!”
Realizing that the cat—or troll—is out of the bag, Hans comes clean, confessing that he works for the TSS (Troll Security Service ), a top-secret government agency in charge of managing Norway’s troll population. And as it turns out, much of the folklore, though not all of it, about trolls is true.
Otto Jesperson is deadpanned perfection as Hans, a troll-weary veteran who’s grown weary of bureaucrats and collecting blood samples. He remains deadly serious throughout, whether telling the camera crew to smear troll stench all over themselves or filling out a Slayed Troll Form over breakfast.
But writer-director André Ovredal balances the tone of the film with Glenn Erland Tosterud as Thomas, the onscreen talent of the film crew, who conveys the right amount of snickering doubt about Hans’ claims, before slowly realizing that this is no joke—thereby making the joke funnier still.
Weirdly, the first of Ovredal’s trolls looks like a cheap Claymation mess, lacking any fluidity of movement, but the rest of the monsters are far better. The final man vs. troll showdown is especially well done, with the monster cleanly integrated into the background, looking realistic enough to maintain the illusion.
"Trollhunter" is a monster-comedy that's by turns a wild ride and a sly satire of government bureaucracy, lies and incompetence.