Finally, a “found footage” movie where someone can hold a freakin’ camera. In fact, TrollHunter (or Troll Hunter, the jury is still out) seems to celebrate its cameraman, a Norwegian standing firm with his digital lens focused square on the trolls.
And yes, trolls.
TrollHunter balances on that precarious line, Otto Jespersen cast as Hans, a tired, run down hunter sick of his job. He’s perfect, a reflection of comedic values, cynicism despite the terror of the situation, and bravery in the face of the absurd.
Sure, the thin story following a group of college kids as they film Hans’ adventures is full of it, but it appreciates that quality. It has fun with it, crafting an intricate backstory, science and slight fairy tale myth to the Troll’s existence.
It has to because they’re on screen a lot, those precise quirks adding fear as the crew becomes trapped in a cave, and excitement as they’re chased by a three-headed monstrosity. With a budget of $3 million to play with (converted currency) is bolder, tighter, and wilder than it has any right to be. Trolls are admirable creations, devised as different warring factions and species.
TrollHunter will be blasted with some obvious stupidity, a government bureaucrat not happy with the filming situation, stating the kids will never leave with their tape. It begs the question as to why he wouldn’t just confiscate the camera then and there. As it turns out, it’s a shoddy means of shoehorning the ending into something nicely compacted. It will find itself struggling with pacing, the number of dash cam views tiring in their repetition, even if the visual flair afforded to the Norway locales is never anything less than pristine.
TrollHunter’s opening 20-minutes may come across as a waste of time, the crew fiddling around trying to gain access to an interview with Hans. They shine plenty of doubt on what they’re witnessing, laugh at the thought, and goof around. That’s smart though, a thunderous appearance by the first troll a shock to the system and a total breakdown of what came before. It forces the audience to accept what they’re seeing, soak it in, and seat themselves for the ride to come. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
A digitally sourced production, Magnet spits out an AVC encode that will handle what said material will throw at it. Mostly, that’s a lot of noise. Nighttime scenes are drenched in it, and much of the film will find itself in this situation. Trolls die when they’re exposed to UV light, you see. Black levels maintain the best they can, a handful of scenes losing out in terms of depth, although regardless, they can’t keep the source noise at bay.
The encode doesn’t add to the problem at least, a generous encode keeping the image stable even as the camera bounces around in a chase sequence. You’ll find no motion artifacts here, and considering the source material could be equally at fault for such a video related crime, that’s impressive.
Detail flatlines as expected, skin rarely producing any visible texture, although it’s not unnatural either. Despite being pale, the flesh tones look normal, the daylight sequences never above the expectations. At night, the noise will be too much for anything to come through. Landscapes on the other hand prove striking, brilliant in their definition. Tall grass yields extensive image firmness, and tress are exquisite.
Some of TrollHunter will turn up in night vision, the less said for those sequences the better. The soft, muddy quality of those shots is the nature of shooting like that. Colors, aside from a green you certainly can’t miss, are typical and untouched it seems in any post production phase. It’s meant to be probable, and that seems to be the mantra across the board. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Undoubtedly, the best part of this disc technically is the DTS-HD mix, given either a miserable English dub or original language Norwegian. Stick with the latter. Voices are so elevated in the dub it’s nigh impossible to grasp any of the subtlety going on.
Back on course, TrollHunter fires itself up about 26-minutes in, a battle in the distance with a troll resulting in some Jurassic Park-style rumblings from footsteps. Two minutes later, it’s a foot chase, roars and grunts from the pursuing troll situated in the rears perfectly. Branches and trees snap as they’re forced down, while cries from the crew work into the stereos.
For all of the surround exploitation, the stereos have a workout too, the mix pushing dialogue away from the center where needed, creating ample space. Trolls will then make their mark towards the sides too, not a single channel ignored when the action ramps itself up.
Bass is no slouch either, the finale concerning a mega-troll of sorts that could conquer Godzilla, the forcefulness of each step reverberating in the low-end with no attempt to hold back. There’s measured distance too, the closer the steps the more powerful they are, a real sense of spacing developed just in the sub alone. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
Five deleted scenes have a brief run at 3:30 in length, followed by a bit of improv and bloopers. Extended scenes close-in on the eight minute mark, followed by four visual effect breakdowns that will last six minutes. Behind-the-scenes stuff is split into seven sections, all of it raw footage from the set, running for a total of 23-minutes. A photo gallery, HDNet promo, trailers, and BD-Live access are left. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]