Troll Hunter (UK - BD RB)
Chris takes an early look at the Blu-ray release of the recent found footage film
Following the deaths of a couple of tourists and a spate of livestock mutilations in the mountains and forests of Norway, the government’s official line is that rogue bears are responsible. But the local hunters don’t agree and neither does a trio of college students who have been stalking an alleged poacher, Hans, with the intention of making a documentary film about him. Their persistence in pursuing Hans finally pays off when the filmmakers become victims of a night-time attack by something that is obviously much larger than a bear. In the aftermath, Hans agrees to an interview in which he reveals the truth regarding his occupation – he is actually a government employed troll hunter. Sceptical, the students volunteer to assist this unlikely hero in his work on the understanding that they will be allowed to document the proceedings and publicly reveal the heavily guarded secrets of a race of creatures thought only to exist in fairly tales. (Taken from the official synopsis.)
As with many of the recent 'found footage' movies, Troll Hunter was shot digitally, in this case with the Panasonic VariCam 3700. As you'd expect the digital look suits the film rather well, and the 1.78:1 (1080/24p AVC) encode is very attractive. The bright exterior shots feature a pleasant palette with strong, natural colour rendition that only serves to enhance the documentary feel of the piece. The image is also nicely detailed, with some particularly revealing close-ups. Things are slightly different in the darker scenes (of which there are many), where picture noise is considerably greater and blacks are often crushed. However, I think it's somewhat unfair to criticise the image for this, as it actually works in the film's favour. Elsewhere I saw a couple of jump cuts that looked to be intentional, but other than that there's not a lot to report. Digital artefacting isn't a major issue and as a digital transfer the image is pristine. It's a very strong presentation, if not quite up there with the best.
In a move that somewhat goes against the whole 'faux documentary' concept, the disc features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that sounds like it belongs in a much more expensive film. Things start off innocuously enough, with dialogue-driven scenes supported by subtle ambient effects like rainfall, but once the trolls arrive on the scene things kick up a notch. During the first major encounter the soundstage explodes into action, with the panicked cries of the film crew, their hurried footsteps, falling trees, and of course the the thunderous footsteps and roars of the enraged troll. The rest of the encounters follow suit, increasing in intensity as the numbers and size of the trolls become greater. The beasts themselves are accompanied by some potent LFE that really helps to sell them as dangerous creatures. As long as you can get over the fact that it's a full 5.1 track, rather than the sort of audio you'd expect from a hand-held camera, you should find much to enjoy here.
The Blu-ray includes a reasonable amount of supplemental material, but closer inspection reveals many of the features to be more lightweight than expected. First up are a bunch of deleted (03:35 HD) and extended (07:55 HD) scenes, followed by bloopers and improves (02:06 HD), visual effects (06:07 HD), a behind-the-scenes featurette (23:25 HD), photo galleries (06:12 HD), a theatrical trailer (01:12 SD) and an 'HDNet: A Look at Troll Hunter' featurette (04:21 HD). The meatiest and most rewarding feature is the behind-the-scenes piece, which includes plenty of on-set footage and interviews with the cast and crew. The deleted/extended scenes are too brief to really bring anything interesting to the mix and the rest of the extras are very short. Even so, there's still more here than on the majority of Blu-ray releases.
Troll Hunter is an enjoyable, engaging feature and one of the best examples of the 'found footage' genre I've seen in a while. It is both tense and funny with a strong cast whose matter-of-fact approach to the material really helps to sell the fantastical elements. I don't think there will be many people who will be disappointed by the disc in audio-visual terms, but I couldn't help feeling that the bonus material promised more than it delivered. Even so, it's still a great presentation that deserves a place in anyone's high-definition collection.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 9th January 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Norwegian, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Deleted and Extended Scenes, Featurettes, Bloopers, Trailer, Photo Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: André Øvredal
Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck
Genre: Documentary, Fantasy, Horror and Thriller
Length: 103 minutes