by James Killough
For those outside Homolandia who think that trolls are creatures similar to ogres, but you’re afraid to ask what the difference is because you might seem stupid, never fear, I am here to set you straight:
This is with all due respect to Nathan Lane , of course, who is far more talented and successful that I ever will be. However, when I was scratching the wrinkles around my neck for an example of a famous toady older gay man, who might also have a premium account on Rentboy.com, but I’m not saying, Lane is the first that sprang to mind. And you have to admit, he and Shrek do look fabulous side by side.
As I’ve said before, I hated being young; I knew it was all wrong, this non-adult thing, that I was lost and unwise, and angry, frustrated, rash. Even when I was ten and twelve, when I read Lord of the Rings thirteen times back to back because I couldn’t bear for the story to end, I identified with Gandalf, who was a cool, magical mature dude, not a troll, even if he perved on hobbits.
I must say, as I get older, I am beginning to see Gandalf’s point regarding hobbits. It’s getting to be a real pain in the lower back throwing the Aragorn of Arathorns and Boromirs of the world around the bed. Hobbits might not look great by your side at the premiere of Harry Potter, but they are much easier on the hips when they’re bouncing up and down on them later that night.
I mention Middle-earth not just as an apposite segue from the topic of my sex life as a troll-in-waiting, but because it has some bearing on the film I saw last night, Trollhunter. It would seem to me that the trolls in this Norwegian genre flick are closer to the ones that Tolkien describes in The Hobbit than they are in Scandinavian folklore, but I may be getting my trolls confused with ogres. I always thought that trolls lived under bridges and that they were large and very ugly, and of course extremely old, but that they were also somewhat wily. It would appear that they are, in fact, dim-witted and feral, utterly lacking in the ability for speech, which means that the Pink Lexicon shall have to be revised because almost every gay troll I’ve ever met has a rattlesnake-ish, witty tongue to compensate for the lack of physical attractiveness and sheer old age.
Some of the best special effects I’ve seen in recent years have been in relatively low-budget creature features, like the Korean The Host, or District 9. Tollhunter is no exception, even though this is something of a comedy above all. I think if it had been in Swedish it would have been even funnier because Swedes still sound like Swedish Chef even when they’re speaking Swedish. Norwegian is far less singsong, more masculine, flatter. The women don’t aspirate “Ya!” when they agree with someone, like Swedish women do. Even Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo aspirates her Yas, which instantly lowers her vicious punk cred and makes her sound like a homo getting a surprise tetanus shot in the ass.
Trollhunter is Blair Witch Project via Cloverfield, but set in the fjords and forests of way bumfuck Norway, which are a far more inventive maze than the canyons of New York City. The film you are watching, you are told in the beginning, is compiled from footage mysteriously left off at some Norwegian TV station. To the best of their knowledge it is real. You’ve seen this before. You want to get up and leave. Don’t.
You are then hauled willingly into the world of three teen film students, two boys and a girl, who in a rather interesting twist is the sound person, and one of the boys the on-air personality, so to speak. Now that I think of it, I’ve never met or seen a female sound person. This might be because the sound recordist is always the weirdo on the set, and very often the asshole of the set if he delays the camera department. I’m sure there are female sound people, but I would imagine them to be psychotic lesbians with substantial property on the virtual world Second Life, which they spend all of their free time developing. Maybe that’s wrong and I’m being a sexist gender pretzel. In any event, sound recordists usually aren’t pretty blond Norwegian chicks like this one is.
In what seems like a silly, implausible intro to get the threesome on the road chasing trolls, they set off initially to track a mysterious bear poacher. It isn’t until later that the reason behind the bear poaching aspect is revealed, and it’s pretty funny, high Scandi humor, like early Lars von Trier circa The Kingdom funny, with the nutty Swedish doctor stuck in Denmark talking to his own turds as they float in the toilet.
The running joke throughout the film is that trolls can smell Christians, and it drives them crazy with bloodlust. Everyone in the film crew swears to the hunter before they set off into troll country that they are avowed atheists, but of course one of them is a closet Christian, which comes out at the absolute wrong moment when they are all cornered in an abandoned mine by half a dozen Mountain King trolls, one of myriad species of troll, apparently, the biggest being the Jotner, which is fought at the end. This is also when the Christian joke reaches its hilarious apotheosis.
While not quite on a par with District 9 or The Host, both of which genuinely have you on the edge of your seat sometimes and are infused with moments of dazzling invention, Trollhunter is nevertheless great fun. My favorite moment was the troll veterinarian, who gives a compassionate speech about how sad it is the trolls have to be turned to stone with sunlight or exploded, when she would much rather “do it with an injection.” It’s up there with Harry Potter in terms of how cleverly it weaves ancient myth and magical beings into everyday modern life and culture.