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Film / The Troll Hunter

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"Norway has trolls, so more power lines are needed. That's just the way it is."

The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) is a Norwegian found footage satire film released in 2010. The movie purports to be found footage, sent in to the film studio, and opens and closes with comments from the film studio about the fate of the footage and the film makers. The film follows three film students from a journalism college — Thomas (presenter), Kalle (camera) and Johanna (sound) — who are planning to make a documentary about a possible bear poacher and local eccentric identified only as "Hans". Hans turns out to be in the employ of TST, the Norwegian troll-safety department, as their government-sanctioned troll hunter (of the Norwegian folklore kind of troll) who hunts and kills trolls who come into contact with people.

Although initially reluctant, Hans eventually agrees to take the trio with him on his latest round of troll hunts, citing tiredness with the current policies of the department and figuring it's about time the truth came out.

Not to be confused with Troll Hunters.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Hans' weapon of choice is a hand-held UV spotlight. His car and camping wagon are both wired with dozens of the things.
  • All Trolls Are Different: According to the film, trolls exist in two major races (Mountain and Forest) and assorted subraces. All share the common traits of being nocturnal omnivores with a very low intelligence, whose primary diet consists of rock. In accordance with Norwegian folklore, they smell (and hate) the blood of Christians and turn to stone/explode upon contact with sunlight (or UVB radiation) due to an inability to properly process vitamin D.
  • Armour Is Useless: Completely averted. Hans dons a full suit of what appears to be homemade plate armor, complete with helmet ("I hate this crap," Hans grumbles) in order to go toe-to-toe with a mammoth bridge troll and get a blood sample. The beast smacks him around pretty good, but lets him go after he proves impossible to chew. Hans emerges bruised but mostly unscathed thanks to his protective armor.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The troll on the poster.
  • Berserk Button: Trolls really don't like Christianity, and can smell Christians.
    • This can be taken as commentary on how Christianity's arrival in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) started to push out the old beliefs - the trolls see Christians as a threat to their existence/habitat.
    • It may also be taken as pointing to a demonic origin for the trolls - opposing Christianity for the sake of some devilish master.
    • In old Scandinavian folklore, "Christian" was sometimes used as a synonym for "human". People believed there were a number of humanoid species, but only humans were Christians. So when it was said in old tales that trolls could smell "Christians", it really meant they could smell humans. When this is taken completely literally, however, hilarity ensues.
  • BFG: More like Hans has a BFF.
  • Big Bad: Finn Haugen, the ruthless government agent covering up the trolls' existence.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Trolls turn into stone/explode when exposed to sunlight/UVB radiation. Some also sprout additional heads as they age.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Debatable, but the finale certainly doesn't bode well for the filmmakers and Hans.
  • Camera Abuse: The camera lens is cracked by cave-dwelling troll, and stays that way until a replacement is found.
  • Casting Gag: Knut Nærum, a Norwegian comedian known for delivering sometimes odd jokes with a deadpan tone and facial expression and being fond of the Government Conspiracy as a topic of humor, plays a clueless power plant worker who has no idea why certain power lines are set up in a useless circle and tries to (futilely) rationalize it on-screen.
  • Covered with Scars: Hans, if the brief bit of his back seen is any indicator.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hans.
    Thomas: Is that a land mine? Am I sitting on a land mine?
  • Cyclops: The first head that trolls have one eye and Hans says the extra heads that they grow don’t actually have eyes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hans, who constantly delivers Captain Obvious comments in a tone of voice so deadpan that you can tell he's just making fun of the others.
    Malica: Give me a break. Do you all actually believe in trolls?
    Hans: (Standing in front of acres of toppled trees) Do you think a squirrel rampaged through here?
  • Defensive Feint Trap: How Hans deals with the first troll - lure it to the clearing his truck is in, then nail it with an array of UV light mounted on the cab.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The story demonstrates and explains many of the mythological aspects of trolls in the form of animal behavior, with Hans dismissing stories of trolls wearing clothes and being intelligent as fairy tales. Trolls turning into stone is explained as them not being able to convert Vitamin D into energy, thus causing their bodies to react negatively. However, no explanation is given for the Trolls' ability to detect Christians by smell other than it's in the folk tales.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: First contact with the trolls ends up like this. And the second. And the third. And just... Whenever they meet a troll.
    • The only exception being the Jotnar they encounter at the end, which is met in the middle of a snowy field.
  • Downer Ending: Our heroes defeat the rabid troll, and are about to go home... Then the government comes and disappears all of them.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Thomas gets his wounds bound up with duct tape.
  • The Dreaded: Jotnars, even to other trolls. How feared are they? The very threat of one going on the rampage causes an entire pack of trolls to try to flee their territory.
  • Fairytale Motifs: Several of course, but one of the best examples is the "3 Billy Goats Gruff" inspired bridge scene.
  • Fantastical Social Services: The TST has turned what used to be a heroic job worthy of commemoration in fairy tales has become a routine and thankless kind of animal control, involving filling out after-action forms in triplicate and wiping out mythical creatures for the sake of civic construction projects. This is the basis of Hans' motivation to whistleblow its existence.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The film opens with an explanation by the studio that the footage had been sent in to them anonymously, and they have been forced to conclude that the events shown within are not doctored. It's fairly obvious things did not go well for the original creators.
  • Found Footage Films: As is standard, the initial disclaimer insists that someone else made it and the production company just edited the thing into a format for wide distribution.
  • Funny Foreigner: The Polish bear delivery man.
  • Global Warming: At one point, there is a radio broadcast about global warming and its effects on wildlife, heavily insinuating that the warming is causing the change in the behaviour of the trolls. But that turns out to be a Red Herring when it is revealed that the trolls have rabies.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Troll Security Service is a secret government agency covering up the existence of trolls for some reason.
  • Green Aesop: The filmmakers have an environmental message: government-sanctioned hunters like Hans do, in fact, exist. They just aren't being led by secret conspiracies. Similarly, sometimes they're still expected to do what Hans mentions in passing, like kill every type of an animal in a stretch of wilderness for a road.
  • Historical In-Joke: Many, but the primary is the prime minister of Norway (supposedly) admitting the existence of trolls in a clip near the end. The clip is the (at that time) prime minister speaking, and the lines come from an actual interview. The addition of the TST man is a camera trick, however, and the "Troll" the prime minister talks about refers to an offshore gas field.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The trolls are just animals doing what's natural to them, but the Government Conspiracy lets innocent tourists get killed, wipes out whole troll communities to allow for property development, and probably murdered the film crew to avoid admitting that trolls exist.
  • Idiot Ball: Kalle. Despite being asked very early on if he was a Christian, and despite later seeing very clearly why this would be a bad thing in the context, Kalle waits until he's trapped in a hole in an abandoned mine right next to half a dozen trolls before finally telling his colleagues "Oh yeah, I do believe in those God and Jesus fellas". The result could be considered Darwinism in action for his sheer blinding inability to put 2 and 2 together before it's way, way too late.
    • It is possible that he was in the middle of a crisis of faith, which would mean that Kalle couldn't even admit the truth to himself until it was too late. His admission does sound more like a revelation than a confession. The fact that the trolls were seemingly unable to smell him until after this admission gives it more credibility.
  • In-Universe Camera: Many of the protagonists are part of a documentary team, justifying it.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Hans, as per the title, hunts trolls. Though he's come to hate the job.
  • Kaiju: The Jotannar Troll, at 200ft / 60m in height.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Hans hates his job and take no pleasure in what he's doing. His story of when he had to kill an entire troll tribe is a good example of this.
  • Left Hanging: The final scene leaves most of the protagonists in peril, but the tapes end before any definitive fate is revealed.
  • Loophole Abuse: The trolls hate Christians and sniff out (and viciously attack) them. Hans repeatedly asks the students if they "believe in God or Jesus" as a precaution, but is stumped as to whether a Muslim will incite the same reaction in a troll.
  • Lost in Translation: The old folktales would often have a troll declare that he could "smell the blood of a Christian man". This is a poetic way of saying he could smell a human nearby. The film takes this literally, to the bewilderment of those not familiar with Scandinavian folklore.
  • Made of Explodium: Younger trolls explode when exposed to sunlight.
  • The Masquerade: Trolls don't exist. And the Norwegian government is willing to kill you (or let you die a horrible death) to make sure nobody else knows.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The existence of gigantic humanoid animals that feed on rocks, are allergic to sunlight and petrify regularly is presented as an improbable and extremely rare, but still scientifically conformable natural phenomenon. How they "smell" a human being's devoutness (and not any belief, but explicitly Christianity), however, is left pretty much in the dark.
    • Kalle's death also falls into this nebulous realm. While it's stated that trolls can smell the blood of Christians, Kalle really didn't do himself any favors by going into a full blown panic mode in his final moments and making big enough of a racket that the trolls pretty much became alerted to his presence anyways. While it is possible that the trolls smelled his blood during his last minute confession that he was a Christian, it's equally as likely that they became alerted to him because, well... he just started panicking and making enough noise to give away their location.
  • Mercy Kill: The reason Hans goes off to finish the Jotnar troll. The sun was very close to rising, but the troll itself was rabid and in obvious pain, so Hans firing the UV spotlight into its gut killed it much faster.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Justified. Finn complains that the bear planted by the Polish contractors after the first encounter is Croatian, a fact to which they remain hilariously nonchalant. Later on, we see him awkwardly explaining to a group of journalists that a rampaging Russian bear is behind a recent series of mysterious goat butchery.
  • Mockumentary: It started as a documentary on an odd man believed to be some kind of criminal. It turns into a documentary on a brief period in the life of Norway's government-sanctioned troll hunter.
  • The Mole: The "seismologist" they meet in the mountains near the end. It's implied he's a TSS agent who tipped them off on where the filmmakers would be.
  • Mundane Fantastic: It is highlighted several times that the passage of time has turned troll hunting (a job for heroes in epic fantasy tales) into a mundane, thankless and furthermore boring kind of animal control, including such details as having to fill after-action forms in triplicate and having to wipe out incredible animals for reasons as stupid as assisting with civic construction projects. All of this — the inane bureaucracy, the high amounts of danger, the lonesome secrecy — makes it soul-crushing, to put it kindly.
  • Multiple Head Case: The first troll. Handwaved by saying that the other heads don't have eyes or brains — just noses, and are just there to improve its ability to scent and impress female trolls.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The film students, to the troll-hunting business. A new character comes in just before the third act; when she invokes skepticism about trolls, the other students just stare at her.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: The end titles state, in English, that "no trolls were harmed in the making of this film".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Much of the horror about the trolls happens, naturally, when you can't see them on-screen.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Invoked; Thomas refers to Hans as a "true Norwegian hero" and "superhero" at various occasions.
  • Obscured Special Effects: The trolls are primarily seen in the dark and through a night-vision camera.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Finn, Hans' superior in the TSS who's also in charge of covering up troll sites.
  • Post Modern Magick: Trolls traditionally turn to stone in sunlight, but Hans uses a gun-type device that shoots out UV rays to cause the same effect.
  • Properly Paranoid: Kalle is understandably concerned when chasing after 3 trolls, insisting on smearing the "troll scent" all over himself while in the abandoned mine. Good thing, too, as five trolls return right as they're about to exit the mine.
  • Posters Always Spoil: The poster makes it abundantly clear that not only do trolls really exist (within the movie) but that the team will encounter a 200ft tall one, removing any and all suspense and mystery from the film.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: While Hans is certainly a good man at heart, he makes it no secret that he hates his job. He takes no pleasure in what he does.
  • Red Herring: The land mine never gets used.
    • There's a brief moment where Hans says to avoid pressing the Big Red Button on his armor when the others are helping him up, but we never find out what it would have done
      • Well, there may be a hint for the button: Hans' armour has what appear to be grenades strapped to it. Shortly after Hans follows the Ringlefinch under the bridge there is a series of rapid flashes before the troll explodes. They're probably flashbangs, and the button sets them all off.
  • Scenery Porn: Averted. The weather is usually grey and rainy, which considerably mutes the potentially spectacular scenery.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kalle at one point states that if they meet any in-bred hillbillies in the woods, Thomas is getting it first.
    • The three billy-goats on the bridge.
    • There is a class of trolls called "Mountain Kings," a little nod to "Peer Gynt" by Henrik Ibsen. More popularly known for the famous "In the Hall of the Mountain King" orchestral composition by Edvard Grieg, which is heard during the second half of the credits.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness: Finn (and by extension the entire TST and Norwegian government) climbs this one pretty fast. At first, he appears to be little more than an angry supervisor to Hans who tries to take the student's camera away and half-heartedly threatens them with repercussions, but by the end of the film, he comes back with his colleagues to 'disappear' the whole crew.
  • The Stinger: A split-second shot of the "Mountain King" trolls lunging at the camera from the mine escape scene after the credits.
  • The Stoic: Hans. He simply mutters that This Is Gonna Suck as he gets ready to get close to a troll in order to get a blood sample, which includes putting on a suit of armor and then get slammed around like a crash test dummy.
  • Toilet Humour: Surprisingly Played for Drama. The characters are in abandoned cave with some half-asleep trolls and try to get unnoticed by them. One of the trolls then farts and our heroes do their best not to be overpowered by the stench and reveal their position.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Hope you didn't look too closely at the poster at the top.
  • Urban Fantasy: The secret clash between legendary beasts of Norwegian folklore and the necessities of modern Norwegian society, as seen through the eyes of a government operative that has to deal with paperwork as much as the next guy.
  • Weaponized Car: A roll cage with spikes is attached to the Land Rover when they go to confront the Jotnar Troll. The vehicle also has a UV searchlight on the roof.
  • Wham Line: "I'm a Christian!". Unfortunately spoiled by the trailer.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of the film, Hans is last seen calmly walking away from the giant's remains and the protagonists, which leads to suffering some sort of negative fate.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hans reminisces about slaughtering numerous trolls to clear land for development. This also meant killing unborn trolls and troll children; it's clear from how he speaks that he isn't proud of what he did.
    • The veterinarian also laments how painfully the trolls have to die, saying that giving them a painless injection would be preferable, but completely infeasible.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Hans explicitly mentions the Norwegian stories about trolls collected by Asbjornsen and Moe (the Norwegian equivalents to The Brothers Grimm) as being mostly fairy tales with wildly inaccurate information.
  • Zen Survivor: Hans. In one scene near the end he reminisces about having slaughtered an entire region full of trolls because the government wanted a tunnel in the area.