Troll movies number a scant few, so their relative absence as a screen creature makes “Trollhunter” seem that much more fresh — because God knows there’s no shortage of found-footage films these days. Speaking of God, the trolls here are drawn to the blood of Christians, so if you want to investigate them further, it’s not a bad idea to hire atheists or Muslims for your team. That’s but one sly touch of satire in the Norwegian genre-bender, a recent festival fave.
Three college students don a camera to get to the bottom of rumored bear trouble the government denies, and “Trollhunter” is the feature-length version of some 285-ish hours of footage they left behind. Turns out, the government wasn’t lying for a change: There is no bear problem.
There is, however, a troll problem. Semantics! Besides, trolls are just the stuff of fairy tales, right? So believe our young crew members until an old, jaded, sour-faced worker (Otto Jespersen) laboring in “troll management” shows them otherwise.
As his character schools them (and us), there are two major kinds of trolls: mountain and woodland. They can live to see their 1,200th birthday. The older they get, the more heads they sprout. They will eat anything. They sport comically phallic noses. They can be killed by camera flashes and other sudden bursts of light, which turns them to stone, à la Medusa. Thanks, vitamin D deficiency!
Writer/director André Øvredal’s sophomore effort is vastly creative, like a far less brooding “Cloverfield” played more for laughs than thrills. Although it takes its time — too long, I believe — to show a troll, it doesn’t skimp on them from then on. That slow start gives way to a livelier back half, even if repetition does, inevitably, set in.
That’s why the small handful of the disc’s deleted scenes is nothing special — not even the one labeled “Troll Hairballs”! The movie itself is special enough just for sheer novelty of subject; it’s not as if it breaks new storytelling ground. For a potentially mind-blowing double feature of monster movies made far outside Hollywood’s influence, ideas and ideals, pair with another recent Magnet release, the superior “Monsters.” —Rod Lott