Troll (2022) Review
Troll opens with a young girl and her father rock climbing in the reputed home of Norway’s trolls. When the girl professes her disbelief, her father tells her to look with her heart not with her eyes and sure enough, faces become visible in the rock formations.
Twenty years later Nora (Ine Marie Wilmann, Sonja: The White Swan, War Sailor) is now a paleontologist and has just made an important find. Before she can even celebrate, a military helicopter arrives with orders to take her to Oslo on a matter of national security. Workers excavating a tunnel through one of those mountains have woken something up. Something big, and not very friendly. It’s a troll, and not the kind that follows you around Facebook commenting “Libtard!” on everything you post.
Despite hailing from Norway and having similar subject matter, Troll isn’t related to André Øvredal’s Trollhunter. Director Roar Uthaug (Cold Prey, The Wave) and writer Espen Aukan (Vikingulven, Future Wars) have crafted a fairly straightforward kaiju film that maintains the ecological message of films like Godzilla and Rodan while tapping into Norwegian folklore for its creature.
The film focuses on Nora and her companions, Andreas (Kim Falck, Cold Prey III, Bare Bea) an advisor to Prime Minister Moberg (Anneke von der Lippe, The Burning Sea, Homesick), Captain Kristoffer Holm (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, The 12th Man, Villmark 2) of the Norwegian Special Forces, and Nora’s father Tobias (Gard B. Eidsvold, In Order of Disappearance, Out Stealing Horses) who’s only recently been released from a mental hospital due to his theories about trolls. A scientist, an eccentric expert, a man of action, and comic relief, the group is comprised of the characters we expect in a film like this.
Also sticking close to the formula, Troll gives us a disastrous attempt by the military to stop the creature before it reaches civilization and a helicopter attack using church bells, which the creature has a bad reaction to. There are also revelations and debates about using nuclear weapons, which, of course, Norway doesn’t officially possess.
Unlike the many Chinese kaiju films we’ve reviewed here, there was obviously some money put into the making of this film, there are plenty of military vehicles on display, crowd scenes, and some fairly epic destruction once the troll reaches Oslo. It’s hardly Godzilla vs. Kong level mayhem, but it’s better than anything else we’ve had recently.
While it does use CGI rather than an actor in a costume, Troll’s effects are quite good and at times had me wondering if they weren’t done with miniatures. Even when they aren’t convincing, such as a helicopter being knocked from the sky, it looks like a model rather than bad animation.
Like any good kaiju film, Troll also builds some sympathy for its giant. Early in the film, he saves a child from falling debris, giving a hint that he’s not purely evil. And, when we find out why he’s heading for Oslo and what was done to him centuries ago in the name of Christianity, he actually becomes sympathetic. This leads to a finale that’s by turns both morbidly funny and oddly touching.
The cast is surprisingly good for a film like this, with all of the leads taking their roles seriously. Eidsvold manages to play Tobias as amusingly crazy without quite going over the top, and I wish he’d had a bigger role. And, in her first film, Karoline Viktoria Sletteng Garvang is funny and cute as Andreas’ nerdy hacker girlfriend Sigrid.
Fast-moving and fun, Troll is a great alternative for family viewing once you get sick of all the holiday films or if you’re looking to avoid them in the first place. Troll is available on Netflix in a variety of subtitled and dubbed versions. And if you want more films like Troll, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.