Alleged to be compiled from found college-project footage from a group of missing students, Trollhunter begins as an investigative report by aspiring Norwegian Michael Moores who are 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 last year's The 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' seemingly adventuresome government job, which he discusses with an 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 the art, nor the social insight to honor the legacy of George A. Romero's Martin.
Don't go under the bridge!
Opens at Crest, Fri., July 8. Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.