Red Tape: The Bureaucracy of Hunting Trolls in Trollhunter

Alleged to be compiled of found college-project footage from a group of missing students, Trollhunter begins as an investigative report by aspiring Norwegian Michael Moores, trailing RV-driving loner Hans (Otto Jespersen). Suspected of bear poaching, Hans is revealed instead to be the field agent in a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of very real, very large trolls. Unlike the recent Last Exorcism, which managed to energize the weary horror mock-doc conceit through sustained uncertainty, Trollhunter dispenses with skepticism as a suspense element—trolls are spotted early, nakedly viewed. In place is the film’s (one) joke: draining the magic and thrill out of trollhunting. Social Democratic bureaucracy, paperwork, and systemized corruption have bogged down even Hans’s seemingly adventuresome government job, which he discusses with a Dirty Jobs air of bored expertise. The result of this intentional banalization, perhaps not unexpectedly, is that Trollhunter is often a dull movie, with Jespersen’s deadpan and the interference of an incompetent front-office type (Robert Stoltenberg) providing what comedy there is. The panicked, jittery-camera action scenes work well enough, and one sees much scenery and learns a great deal about the habits of trolls—though as de-mythologizings go, Trollhunter has neither the wit, nor art, nor social insight to honor the legacy of George A. Romero’s Martin.

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