Last year I did a series of daily micro blogs going through the history of horror films by year. This was meant to give people an example of the high points of the genre. This year I'll be doing the same thing, but going off the beaten path to provide some films you may not have heard of. These films may not be up your alley, but they're all interesting.
Troll Hunter 2010 Dir. André Øvredal
Horror films from outside of the U.S. are nothing new, Murnau's Nosferatu is considered a classic of German expressionist cinema, but the work coming out of Europe over recent years has been extraordinary. Let the Right One In turned everyone on to the dark and fantastic in Sweden, letting everyone know that the U.S. didn't have the market cornered on horror. Two years later, Norway would give the world Troll Hunter, a new cultural take on the genre.
Troll Hunter takes the form of a documentary film as several university students follow Hans, a man whom they believe is poacher, into the woods only to realize that he hunts trolls for the Norwegian government. Hans reluctantly allows them to track his work as he hunts several different kinds of trolls. This is an adventure they relish with utter glee, even after loosing two camera operators. The premise sounds wacky on paper, but the film is quite good, striking a balance between real moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity and tightly drawn terror. The cinema verte style and subtitles might scare away some viewers, but once you see the trolls onscreen, you won't want to stop watching. That's right, you see trolls- big ones, small ones…well you get the idea. These physical differences in trolls give an excellent verisimilitude to the tracking and cataloguing of them, this, along with the "found footage" style, goes along way toward believable world building.
Troll Hunter is a fascinating film, not just for its creativity and production value (both of which it has in spades), but for its connection to the myths and culture of Norway. We love zombies and vampires, but it's so refreshing to see new kinds of monsters grace the screen. We hit a cultural threshold with the Japanese brand of ghosts in films like Ju-on in the early 2000s, why not expose ourselves to even more myths and cultural ideas*.
Troll Hunter is a gem of a monster movie that rewards adventurous viewers with humor, horror and more creativity than ten Hollywood films.
*The 2012 film Thale is another example of Norwegian horror
Watch the trailer HERE