Believing they are following a poacher they discover their subject, Han (played by Otto Jespersen), is employed by the government to control Norway’s troll population.
Tired of working in secrecy he allows the film makers to shadow him as he travels around the country, trying to solve the mystery of why these trolls are leaving their territories.
The film itself is an unusual mix of humour and horror. The idea of giant trolls living amongst us is amusing but the monsters are always presented as a real threat, with not all of the main cast making it out in one piece.
Otto is great as the title character, revealing the mythos of the trolls and the methods of his career completely deadpan. It his authenticity that convinces you of the reality of the situation.
Fighting the trolls and preventing them from eating campers doesn’t make him a hero in his eyes. It is simply a job. A dirty task with long hours and bad pay.
The banality of having to fill out paper work for each troll kill contrasts with the sheer wonder at discovering these fairy tale creatures actually exist.
It takes some time for the first troll to appear, as the students chase down Han across the barren, snowy wastes of Norway. This helps build up the reality of the setting and our anticipation as we eventually hear something crashing through the forests towards the students.
The trolls are a triumph of special effects and art direction. With a distinctive design they are truly impressive onscreen. You really believe that they are part of their environment.
Coming in all shapes and sizes it the students have to sort fact from fiction. Trolls can smell the blood of a Christian and sometimes live under bridges but they don’t wear clothes or challenge people to eating competitions.
We learn through Han that they are stupid animals, powerful and destructive. They evoke some pity, killed for unknowingly getting to close to the ever expanding human population.
We also get to see the governments efforts to cover up the trolls rampage, such as purchasing dead bears to take the blame for the damage caused.
Acting as our point of view characters Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), Johanna (Johanna Morck) all play the roles with the right levels of scepticism, awe and fear.
They are almost giddy in parts, overwhelmed at being let in on this incredible secret. Still, they manage to ask the questions that the audience is doubtlessly asking themselves.
Rather than just being a series of isolated incidents the over-arcing mystery of why the trolls are behaving strangely provides a strong through line.
Each new troll encounter adds another piece of the puzzle and pushes the characters further and further from civilisation and deeper and deeper into troll country.
At the same time we get some commentary about how man’s impact on the environment is affecting innocent animals, with allusions to global warming and development of the countryside.
Early in the film the shaky camera work did begin to induce some nausea but as the film progresses this diminished. With the existence of the trolls established the film makers are happier to pull back and show us the creatures in the open.
It is enough to say that after a slow start the film becomes very enjoyable. You feel you are along for the ride, the documentary style inviting you to experience events from the perspective of characters.
This chaotic style helps to enhance the reality of the trolls, glimpsing them as the characters rush through a wood or peering at them through the greenish tint of the camera’s night vision while the characters hide in a cave, surrounded by the monsters.
With the many shoots of Norway and its landscapes you come to believe that these giant creatures could escape notice, living among the distant mountains and inhospitable snowy tundra.
The ending is poignant, capped with a very funny joke. A perfect summation of the movie itself.