It’s to the point that every other movie I see is a found-footage movie. Just make a regular movie already; one that isn’t partially improvised and cobbled together from eight hours of found footage.
Trollhunter, a movie directed by Norse director André Øvredal, is yet another found-footage movie. Three students are investigating a possible bear poaching (because apparently bears are serious business in Norway) and get on the trail of a possible poacher. They follow this dour and taciturn man as he inexplicably places tires around the countryside, stays out all night, and lurks in his strange camping trailer that is outfitted with enough UV lamps to light up a Lady Gaga world tour.
They follow him into the woods one night and the viewer makes several discoveries, which I’ll list in ascending order of importance: 1. There are many, many trolls in Norway. 2. The government knows and Hans, the supposed bear poacher, is actually a troll hunter for a covert government agency. 3. Otto Jerspersen, the actor portraying Hans, is a popular Norse comedian. Actually, I discovered this when I looked him up.
Hans, as grim, quiet and bearded as a depressed and divorced career scientist, wants the young film crew to follow him around: his job is dangerous, has no benefits, no overtime, no overnight pay, and no hazard pay. He wants them to expose the Troll Security Service to the public and hopefully improve his own lot. As they investigate a spike in troll misbehavior, they drive around the austerely beautiful Norse countryside (rain, cleanliness, enormous mountains and waterfalls everywhere), he lectures them on troll species classification, eating habits, gestation, and vulnerabilities. While he repeatedly says the old fairytale stories do not apply, trolls can smell the blood of Christians and turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.
The trolls are amazing: comically ugly, with the hunched walk and comically enormous noses from fairytale lore. The special sound effect go beyond the caricatures: the trolls mutter and almost speak with fabulous monstrous rumbling noises, and at one point, while the cast hides in a cavenook to escape a family of trolls who have come in to sleep for the day, one troll lets out a long and deafening fart that almost suffocates the film crew. The acting (particularly from Jespersen, although I cannot see how he could ever be funny) is wonderful and the humour deadpan in a uniquely nordic way.
But the inconsistencies are rife and ruin an otherwise wonderful movie: the peevish troll bureaucrats that follow the crew around are portrayed as chronically underfunded grunts who couldn’t direct a funeral, but they become suddenly sinister when it suits the plot. Northern European governments are simply not frightening; they’re too fair, too benign. Even in the Stieg Larsen books, the government bad guys are hopeless bunglers. The camera plays across a row of power lines, and Hans explains that they just look like power lines; they are in reality an electric fence to keep in a 200-foot mountain troll called a Jotnar. How can massive, violent, highly odorous creatures be kept secret from the public? And isn’t it lazy to simply film a series of electric pylons and and call it something else?
You will still like this movie, despite its plot issues, and its sudden and hurried ending. The climax, a battle with the Jotnar seen on the poster, is amazing, and you will be awed by this creature that is the size of a mountain. It’s still a good horror film.