Troll Hunter exemplifies what happens when you completely hang an entire film on it’s premise. The premise? Trolls exist in our world. We’re explained the science behind trolls, that they’re different types of trolls, that they calcify under sunlight. There is a government division called the Troll Security Team hellbent on keeping the knowledge of trolls from the public. That’s the A story and it’s all very fun and entertaining as we explore this world, but the film doesn’t provide much else due to the complete lack of a B story. As a result, Troll Hunter loses itself in its mythology.
For instance, who are these three students? Other than being classmates, why are they doing this? Who is the hunter? Why am I supposed to care about these people? The story plays out very episodically as we move from hunt to hunt. A character leaves the team but his role is easily replaced by another character. You really start to feel this gap between the various troll hunting set pieces. With every progressive set piece, the film loses its steam. That’s a shame, because the set pieces themselves are very thrilling to watch.
A lot of people would say that the ending was too abrupt. I agree, but it’s a deeper problem than that. I would say the reason the ending feels abrupt is because it’s cutting the story right before you think it’ll end as a shock moment. As if the director thinks it would leave space for the viewer to imagine the aftermath, but we don’t picture it in our heads, because ultimately we don’t care enough about the characters. This year’s Chronicle, excels for the exact same reason, it’s focus on its characters is what elevated the film beyond its found footage and superhero film contraptions.
The found footage film as a concept is losing its edge. It no longer sets the audience into the reality as it used to. It’s like shooting the Borg with the same phaser rifle, the audiences has simply adapted to its frequency and we need to move on to something else.