Film Review: TrollHunter

TrollHunter has graduated from the Blair Witch school of filmmaking, but is fun all the same. It is also refreshing to see a well-known but less often filmed mythical creature being tackled, compared to the plethora of vampire films for example.

Thomas, Johanna and Kalle are university students making a documentary about mysterious bear killings. Speaking to those in the know, one individual is singled out as knowing more about the incidents. Initially evading their requests for an interview, Hans allows the students to accompany him. What they discover is far more interesting and dangerous than they first thought…

Presented as a mockumentary, director André Øvredal takes his cues from films such The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project. To a certain extent, it is a shame that the film uses this formula as it does not do anything particularly interesting with it. Nevertheless, it functions sufficiently so viewers identify with the students and share their awe at unfolding events.

The first half of TrollHunter suffers from occasional lulls in pace. The film never really loses its audience, but there are a few stagnant moments. The second half, however, is much more enlivening. The tension works well in this part of the film, pulling viewers along for the ride.

TrollHunter is an amalgamation of various genres. As well as fitting into the aforementioned mockumentary mould, the film is combines action and humour with the traits of a thriller and a road movie. The comedy in the film is not particularly overt, and perhaps it will go over the head of some viewers. Nonetheless, it successfully balances the more absurd elements of the plot.

There is not really any character development in TrollHunter, per se. The students filming the documentary show very little character, they are mostly vessels through which to view the action. Hans, the troll hunter, is a little more interesting as there is mystery surrounding his character. The ending of the film also plays into the sense of ambivalence.

The real stars, however, are the trolls themselves. The special effects in the film do not look state of the art but authentic and are entirely in-keeping with the style. The only complaint really is that Øvredal is very sparing with footage of the trolls. It is interesting to see the various guises, but more footage of the creatures would have been preferable.

Performances are fine in the film, but the emphasis lies really on the creatures rather than the humans. TrollHunter is an imperfect film, but suitably enjoyable notwithstanding.

Film Review: The Last Exorcism

Just when you think you’ve seen enough exorcism films to last you a lifetime, along comes another. The Last Exorcism, however, is a commendable film and one of the better ones in this horror sub-genre.

Reverend Cotton Marcus is the subject of a documentary on exorcisms. He allows a camera crew to film his final exorcism, with the intention of debunking some myths…

Filmed as a mockumentary, the film will immediately draw parallels with The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project. Daniel Stamm’s film differentiates itself from these predecessors by injecting a healthy dose of cynicism. Rather than a neutral documentary hoping to discover some truths, The Last Exorcism is set-up as a film intending to reveal the fabricated nature of exorcisms. This is cynicism is aided by bouts of humour, which add to the sense of verisimilitude.

The story works well; the various twists leave the viewer unsure of exactly where the film is heading. The film works well to maintain audience interest; it is only the last quarter of the film which lets it down. Otherwise, the film does well to build tension, and the scares are infrequent but efficient when they come.

The Reverend Cotton (played by Patrick Fabian) is an interesting protagonist. A religious man who has lost his faith, it is clear Marcus has been affected by having a family and the stories of exorcisms ending negatively. The overriding theme of The Last Exorcism is that of belief. The film parlays the line between the natural and the supernatural; it is unclear whether Nell’s predicament is psychological or paranormal. The overall message of the film appears to promote personal faith over organised doctrine.

Patrick Fabian gives a good performance as Marcus. He appears genuine when expressing both humour and fear. Ashley Bell brings an ambiguous quality to her portrayal of Nell, seeming innocent yet tortured. Effects are used sparingly, adding to the realist feel of the picture. When employed, the sound works to great effect in enhancing the atmosphere.

Not a masterpiece, but The Last Exorcism is definitely worth a watch. Although the thrills are on the limited side, the film engages the audience’s interest throughout.