A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Norwegian (with English subtitles) horror comedy is presented as "found" documentary footage (much like The Blair Witch Project, though it's far less scary). There's plenty of fantasy-based creature violence as the trolls fight with humans; some wounds and icky bodily fluids (mostly non-human) are on display. Subtitles include several uses of "s--t," as well as a few other iffy words. The college-age teen characters are brave, curious, and resourceful, and despite a few downbeat notes here and there, the movie is a lot of fun (an American remake is in the works) -- it could be a good introduction to foreign-language movies for teens who might resist.
What's the story?
In rural Norway, three college film students set out to make a documentary about a mysterious bear poacher (Otto Jespersen). After much persistence, they track him down and learn about his real job: He has the thankless task of making sure that the country's troll population is under control. And if any trolls get out of hand, it's his job to hunt and kill them. (The bears are merely a diversion, since the public at large can never know about the existence of trolls.) He entrusts this secret to the crew, and they set out to document his latest adventures, including collecting a blood sample from a troll with rabies and eventually fighting the giant Jotnar, an enormous troll that no other human has ever seen.
Is it any good?
TROLLHUNTER is a genre film that's both unusual and entertaining. The unfortunate prologue about how the movie's footage was "discovered" will draw comparisons -- perhaps unfavorable -- to The Blair Witch Project, but that's where the comparison ends. Directed by Andre Ovredal, Trollhunter is a great deal funnier and more fun than Blair Witch, with wilder special effects and more creative monsters. Plus, the movie cooks up an astonishing amount of troll lore, including names of species, mating habits, diet, lifespan, and much more, including a scientific explanation as to what turns them to stone.
Though Ovredal no doubt selected the "faux documentary" format to save money, it nonetheless makes the movie a wry and subtle commentary on our media-obsessed world: Working in the most secretive of occupations, the troll hunter nonetheless succumbs to a reality-show grilling on camera. Jespersen -- a popular comedian in Norway -- gives a wonderful performance as the jaded hunter.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Was it realistic? Was it scary? What other impact did it have on you?
Is the troll hunter character a good guy, or a good role model? Is he someone to root for? What makes us root for certain characters and not others?
The film is presented as a "found footage" documentary. How might it have been different without that angle?
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