Trollhunter is the best “found footage” movie ever. Cloverfield had a good take on it, but Trollhunter takes it to the next level. Being a comedy helps, because it can satirize the disingenuous seriousness of presenting the “last known footage” of “victims.”
Trollhunter claims to be edited down from hundreds of hours of found footage that was authenticated. The sheer number of text screens explaining this has to be satire. Yes, every movie from Blair Witch to Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism claims to be made out of reverence to the victims. So does the troll movie.
The camera team is Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud) in front of the camera, Johanna (Johanna Morck) who appears from time to time and Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) on camera. They’re investigating Hans (Otto Jespersen), a supposed bear poacher, but really he’s hunting trolls.
Writer/director Andre Ovredal knows how to build drama with hints of troll damage and this mysterious hunter. Hans’ attitude only builds the mystique more. He’s so matter of fact and organized about using troll scent to blend in.
Ovredal gets to the trolls in the first act though. When the shaky camera runs through the forest, it’s a lot funnier when the filmmakers are running from goofy trolls. Still, don’t you want to drop the camera when you’re running for your life? But that’s the “found footage” genre. They even work camera damage into the footage at one point.
The trolls look like Jim Henson creatures. They could be guys in suits, which is a triumph of CGI. The creatures have personality and they look so silly. It’s only their massive destructive power that makes them a threat. They look like they just want to be left alone to eat rocks in peace.
In between troll attacks the film remains entertaining. The government has a whole system in place to cover up troll attacks, and the filmmakers chronicle the entire procedure. The film delivers all the practical interests one could have about trolls: trapping them, disposing of them, even the scars and haunting memories Hans bears. Ovredal and his cast approach the material with the gravity of Blair Witch and Paranormal, and that makes it funny.
Trollhunter has more of an ending than any of the other found footage movies. Maybe they had it easier because they could make it a joke, but even without the final tag, Trollhunter provides a satisfying resolution and leaves plenty of room for a follow-up team of investigators to uncover Trollhunter 2.