Monday, November 28, 2011

Norway's "Troll Hunter" is both a "monster movie" and a take-off on "Blair Witch" and "Last Broadcast"

The Norwegian horror spoof “TrollHunter” (“Trolljegeren”), dir. Andre Overdal, seems on one level to be an ambitious takeoff on amateur road haunts like “Blair Witch Project” and “The Last Broadcast” (the later of these is about the Pine Barrens Jersey Devil).  "Troll Hunter" is also a monster movie (maybe even "The Monster Movie" (replacing "An American Werewolf in London" for the honorable title), one in which the “monster(s)” appears about a third the way through, but there’s a lot of politicking about what it all means.  There was a Swedish “chiller” from the 50s, “Invasion of the Animal People”, that comes to mind. 

Some college students go into the wild to investigate a supposed bear poacher Hans (Otto Jespersen), but pretty soon he gives up his classified secret and reveals that he is a clandestine troll hunter for the Norwegian government.  There’s the usual cover-up, and denials, more or less as if trolls were extraterrestrial aliens or sasquatches.  In fact, they’re made into fascinating monsters, crude, living for thousands of years, reproducing slowly, vulnerable to sunlight, prone to explode or turn to stone, which actually incites some religious tests. 

The movie plot is framed by a claim that the students disappeared, and that a friend received a DVD documenting their whole experience.  Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud) is the most conspicuous of the kids and often narrates, but his own demise could come.  There are subtle clues early that this project of voyeurism (earning academic credit in college film school) comes with its bodily costs: the kids are told to scrub the hairier parts of their bodies to remove any human odor, and then cover themselves with smelly troll goo to smell like the beasts, to attract them. It works.

Here’s the official site. The film can be rented from YouTube for $3.99 (or from Netflix with subscription). The US distributor is Magnolia Pictures (Magnet), and in the UK it's Momentum.

Technically, the film is impressive (though just 1.85:1), with good night photography, and stunning Norwegian scenery.  I visited Norway in 1972, taking the train from Oslo to Bergen, then flying to Trondheim, and then taking another train and bus to Narvik. 

The idea that a secret conspiracy or hidden natural threat is passed around on media or among characters in a “treasure hunt” is often used in “science fiction”, particularly in stores that challenge our perception of everyday reality and presents the possibility of massive plots and coverups.  In my novel manuscript “Brothers”, the CIA brings back an ex-military person (now teaching history) as an agent when it learns of a bizarre “Andromeda strain” of sorts from a precious college student, who contacts the agent, who brings the evidence back from Europe, to have it passed to other “targets” in a covert right wing group known to a friend of the college student. The strain “infects” the agent, and other people, with bizarre plot twists (some of them political) eventually leading to the realization that the number of souls in the world is reaching a limit and will contract. 

In another screenplay, “Titanium”, a journalist receives a bizarre beta hi-fi tape that has to have been made in the 1980s, leading him to connect some characters at a private academy to supernatural things. 

In David Lynch’s “Lost Highway”, the arrival of mystery tapes at the saxophonist’s home drives the early part of the plot, eventually involving dopplegangers and identity-change. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Narvik. 
The title of this film is ironic for me, inasmuch as I have blogged about the "copyright trolls" (like Righthaven).

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