Trollhunter

If you think it may be dumb … you may wanna think again

Trollhunter movie poster

Official film poster
Trollhunter is a humorous but scary Norwegian trip flick that’s bound to cast its spell on you.

JOHN SMISTAD
Olympia, Wash.

A group of Norwegian college kids, investigating a series of mysterious bear killings, discover that there are much more nefarious things afoot. They soon come to learn that an odd loner is actually a troll hunter.

The Norwegian trip flick Trollhunter (Norwegian Trolljegeren) is not about stalking lowlife cancel-culturists on the net. Thank God.

Rather, this is a nearly impossible to define, brilliantly conceived and produced supernatural spectacular film about … yep … hunting trolls.

Like, actual trolls.

I know. But, somehow, it works.

I am familiar with Trollhunter writer/director André Øvredal from his work at the helm of 2016’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a superbly crafted skin-crawler, yet far from the far-out fantasy fest he delivers here.

Øvredal introduces us to a three-person camera crew of Norwegian college students sleuthing a story on a baffling batch of backcountry bear poachings. Boy, did they ever get more than they bargained for. The trio meet a mysterious bearded guy living out of a trailer, which he abandons every night from dusk ‘til dawn. Why, they wonder?

What follows is truly one of those cases of, “Ya really gotta see it to appreciate it.”

To call Trollhunter way out weird is a woeful undersell. Just as to refer to it as wackily wonderful does not do justice, either. 

There is tongue-in-cheek humor running in constant undercurrent throughout this super-strange story. Hans (an optimally cast Otto Jespersen) the trollhunter, a serious and stoic soldier, is at once slyly sarcastic. He complains to the youngsters about a clandestine Norwegian government faction failing to furnish him with neither overtime nor overnight hazard pay while cleaning up another mess of monster mayhem. Trapped in a cave while a most unfortunate troll farting party breaks wind (you’re reading this right), he turns to his retching-in-reflex partners and offers with a straight face, “Definitely rabies.” 

Naturally, these proceedings are profoundly preposterous, people. But make no mistake, this is remarkable filmmaking. A veritable small army of visual effects experts are to be roundly recognized. And special citation simply has got to go to chief special effects maven Martin Gant, for making it all passably plausible if nothing else. No big surprise, as Gant kicked off his illustrious career contributing to the ground-breaking FX magic of the 1980 Star Wars saga classic, The Empire Strikes Back.

Some may be put off by the troll’s predilection for sniffing out Christians, upon whom they’re fond of feeding. I was. But then it occurred to me.

Hey. They’re trolls.

And all you Edvard Grieg fans need fear not. For considering the subject matter heretofore explored, there is requisite homage paid to the great Norwegian composer during the closing moments of Trollhunter, when we are treated to a few key notes from Grieg’s symphonic masterpiece, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

And now, may you indulge me as I sum up Trollhunter with a turn on that oldie but a goodie ode of Gelett Burgess, Purple Cow

I never saw a giant troll,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather be than see one!

Trollhunter (2010)
Director: André Øvredal
Writer: André Øvredal
Cast: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum

Trollhunter is available on Amazon Prime and other streaming services.

This article originally appeared in the July 23, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com.

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