The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again. But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.
“Fairy tales are for kids. Trolls are animals. Predators. They eat, shit and mate. Eat anything they can.”
I’m sure it wasn’t the first, but The Blare Witch Project can certainly lay claim to popularising the found footage genre of movie making. It was such a hit at the time, it turned me off. There’s no way a movie based on a gimmick, that became that popular, could actually be good. Maybe I was wrong, but I don’t know because I’ve still never seen it. But more than turning me off that one movie, it tuned me off the entire concept, and I had never seen a single found footage movie. Until today, when I watched Troll Hunter. I didn’t know I was about to break my self-imposed found footage drought, I was just looking for an interesting sounding foreign language movie.
A wild bear in the Norwegian country side has apparently killed several German students. So the select few hunters issued with licenses to hunt the species flock to the location of the kill. But always shadowing them is a mysterious poacher (Otto Jespersen). A poacher who eventually creates more interest than the bear he’s hunting. Attention perpetuated by university students making a documentary for school. So soon, presenter Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), sound girl Johanna (Johann Mork) and cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) are sneaking around the poacher’s caravan and following him in the middle of the night.
One of these tail jobs leads to secluded woodlands, where they lose the poacher’s trail, only to hear terrifying roars and see flashing lights over a ridge. Soon, the poacher is running towards them, screaming, “Troll!” The man they soon come to know as Hans helps them escape, and tells them that he is a government sanctioned troll hunter. Of course the students initially think he’s joking or crazy, but it’s not long before tagging along with Hans leads to them seeing that his story is all too real.
So far, in my massive experience with found footage, I have to ask the question, is it always this unnecessary. I really liked Troll Hunter, but I can’t help but think I would have liked it more if it was shot like a regular movie. The dodgy camera work, deliberately shaky, fast and loose with focus to make it seem all the more authentic, ultimately just distracted me. Every little “mistake” is so obviously planned and rehearsed, that it only came off as even more artificial.
The one advantage of the filming style is the depiction of the trolls. Obviously made on a budget, the night time shoots, cheap looking night vision, bad focus and constantly moving camera does make the CGI trolls look pretty cool, scary and real.