Wednesday, 24 August 2011

TrollHunter / Trolljegeren (DVD Review)

DVD review of the brilliant Norwegian monster film TrollHunter / Trolljegeren
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Writer/Dir: André Øvredal (Future Murder)
Cast: Glenn Erland Tosterud, Otto Jespersen, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen, Hans Morten Hansen
Norway, 2011

Reason to see: A Norwegian monster movie is a must-see in my book.

Trollhunter is a vérité style (found footage) film following a group of students who are on the trail of capturing a story involving mysterious bear attacks and an elusive hunter. The team includes the quietly enthusiastic Thomas (Glenn Tosterud), Johanna working the sound (Johanna Mørck) and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) whom we mostly hear over seeing as his character is behind the camera. They set off in their search involving mysterious tracks in the woods and try to deduce what has been going on by interviews locals, as well as hunters and a government official. The follow their nose spirit of looking into the mystery gives the film a fantastic, adventurous spirit to it as the audience doesn't know any more or less than the trio at any time.

As a spoiler-free film reviewer, this is one of my favourite kinds of films and because it's so great I can (and do) recommend going into the film blind and just seeing it. It's highly entertaining, very engaging and looks gorgeous at every step. The characters are very accessible and pull off the natural tone with ease, creating a perfect canvas for any tone it takes, be it human drama or horror or even comedy. The actors are amazing, bringing very realistic reactions to any given scenario making it a joy for the audience to be brought into their world. I was particularly impressed with Glenn Tosterud as the curious and persistant Thomas and Hans Morten Hansen as gruff and elusive Finn.

The film is excellent, and is able to blend the horror easily with humour and the human factor. I loved how even though it's fun and very funny at times, it's not over the top or going for laughs because it's strongly rooted in the human factor as well as the mythology and stories of the Trolls. It's absolutely gorgeous to watch, with tons of time spend outdoors in the woods and in nature which is a treat to see and gives a huge vastness of the land that is ever present and mysterious given weight to idea of letting your mind fill with infinite possibilities on what could be 'out there'.

Bringing fable to life in modern day culture isn't easy, but TrollHunter pulls it off at every turn. I watch a lot of monster movies, and TrollHunter is truly a cut above. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend checking it out.

I had a chance to chat with director André Øvredal and actor Glenn Tosterud about the film, and you can see that interview here or listen to it here.

DVD Extras:
  • Deleted Scenes (5 scenes, 3 minutes) * nice collection of deleted scenes more on the hunting and tracking, as well as some fun goofy bits with the students.
  • Improvs & Bloopers (2 minutes) 2 improvs both funny to serious and some funny bloopers
  • Extended Scenes (3 scenes, 7 minutes) * extended scenes including the students interviewing various people about the unusual activity and also chatting with Hans. These were fun to see and it's wild to watch extended scenes for a vérité style film, because you kind of turn your brain off a bit and don't question the pacing, but it is still structured and created. Very interesting.
  • Visual Effects (6 minutes) 4 sections on Visual Effects Breakdowns: Ringlefinch, Digital Models, Jotnar and Tosserland & Mountain Kings. Really cool breakdowns of several of the creatures and shows visually how they were incorporated into the film, and I loved the Digital Models section which included really awesome troll classifications. No audio, just visuals and in very clear stages to tell the story of how they put the trolls in the film.
  • Behind-the-Scenes (23 minutes) * 7 behind the scenes: Troll Foot, Good Vibes on the Shoot, While We Wait, Russian Bear, The Tin Man, The Beard & Movie Stars. Really cool to see some of the preparation, test run and then actual footage for a vérité style film, to see the planning that's involved as well as the final footage. It was also fun to see prep work for some of the stunts, props & make up (especially Otto Jespersen's beard!) as well as the contrast between prepping, waiting and goofing around until actual shooting. behind the scenes and shooting.
  • Galleries (6 minutes) Troll Sketches & Troll Habitats concepts sketches of trolls and lots of locations shots of habitats set to music.
  • HDNet: A Look at Trollhunter (4 minutes) featurette with film clip, critics quotes and interviews with writer/director André Øvredal & actor Glenn Tosterud about the premise of the film, the different layers in the film, the character of the Trollhunter, the road movie feel of the film, the intent to make it feel very real and the design of the trolls.
  • * All DVD extras in Norwegian are subtitled in English
TrollHunter / Trolljegeren is available on DVD as of August 23, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'd watch it, repeatedly
I highly & widely recommend it

Also see: All 2011 Films Reviewed or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - August 19, 2011

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