Indie Horror Marathon: Trollhunter (2011)

When critics say that few new installments in the jaded found-footage format are properly made or worthwhile, movies like Trollhunters are the ones they’re talking about.

Trollhunter opens with text that claims that a hard drive containing the following footage was sent anonymously to Filmkameratene, the film’s production company, and that after reviewing the film for over a year to see if the footage was authentic or some type of elaborate prank, investigators determined that it was authentic. Within minutes, it’s incredibly easy to let yourself believe that everything that follows is factual. For 103 minutes, I believed in the existence of trolls.

The 2010 Norwegian film was filmed entirely in documentary-style sequences with handheld cameras. Trollhunter follows a group of four college students who are trying to profile a suspected bear poacher. But when they meet up with the mysterious hunter in a forest one night, it becomes clear that he’s hunting something much more threatening.

Writer, director André Øvredal produced Trollhunter with a $3.5 million budget, with much of the budget going to the troll’s intricate CGI. It was picked up for distribution in the United States by Magnet Release, who distributed many of the films that we’ll feature over the next 30 days.

While the horror film market is saturated with movies with similar filming styles, “Trollhunter” utilizes the smart script and forceful acting in a way that makes it hard to imagine it being filmed any other way. The characters feel real and the dialog is natural and often hilarious. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the seemingly-implausible plot.

Characters add credibility to the troll lore within the film. As we begin to learn more about the mysterious troll-hunter, we learn about the Norwegian government’s efforts to keep the existence of these man-eating creatures unknown to the public.

In many ways, the film feels like the beginning to an epic series. We’re introduced to the nature of trolls– their anatomy, personalities, behavior, history and relation to the local government. But perhaps more importantly, we learn of the film’s titular character in Hans (played by Otto Jespersen) who has spent much of his life secretly hunting and researching these mysterious creatures.

The beautiful, fog-draped Norwegian scenery adds just as much character to the film as its four heroes. Filmed in the mountains of Western Norway, the challenging rocky landscape makes for a chilling atmosphere that propels to the film’s jaw-dropping climax.

Part monster horror, part dark fantasy, “Trollhunter” contains one of the most fleshed-out mythologies that provides as much subtext to satisfy audiences while leaving enough room for imagination. Trollhunter has resonated with audiences in ways that few fantasy horror films have, due to Øvredal’s sharp direction. 

Trollhunter builds suspense masterfully and delivers in such a way that fans of fantasy, horror, action and suspense seekers should find immensely engaging.

Trollhunter can be purchased cheaply from Amazon right here.

Barry Falls Jr
Barry was the managing editor of his university newspaper before contributing as a freelance content creator for Yahoo News and Esquire. He founded Horror Theory in 2014 to analyze horror films through a sociological lens.

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  1. You write “the film’s titular character in Finn Haugen (played by Hans Morten Hansen)” – while Hans Morten Hansen indeed does play ‘Finn Haugen’ in the movie, the titular character, the Troll Hunter called Hans, is played by Otto Jespersen.

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