Title: Troll (Netflix – 2022)
Director: Roar Uthaug, Espen Aukan
Writers: Roar Uthaug, Espen Aukan
Stars: Ina Marie Wilmann, Kim Falck, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Gard B. Eidsvold, Anneke von der Lippestad, Fridtjov Såheim, Dennis Storhøi
Something ancient and gigantic is stirring deep in the Norwegian mountains. As the creature rises from its slumber, bridges fall, tunnels collapse enormous boulders rain over the fleeing construction crew on site. And as it takes its first steps in centuries, the panic spreads!
Nora Tidemann (played by Ina Marie Wilmann) is a professor in paleontology and works at a dig site on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. After having found exactly nothing for months, they have just struck gold – or dino fossils, in this case. As the celebration is about to begin, a helicopter full of heavily armed Norwegian special forces arrives and whisks Nora away to the headquarters in Oslo. She’s the expert they need in this new catastrophe. Here she meets the Norwegian prime minister Berit Moberg (played by Anneke von der Lippe), Defense Minister Frederik Markussen (played by Fridtjov Såheim), General Sverre Lunde (played by Dennis Storhøy and gaggle of scientists and experts.
The team receives reports that a massive hole has appeared in the side of the Dovre Mountains in Norway. Is it an attack? An explosion? An act of terror? A natural catastrophe? Huge depressions in the ground lead away from the site. No, it can’t be. It is undoubtedly a sinkhole or maybe a gas explosion! Nora is the only one who realizes the obvious: they are footprints! A frantic video recording is found of inhuman roars and what looks like a giant creature. The crisis team can’t believe what they’re seeing!
Troll is the new giant creature disaster movie directed by Norwegian director Roar Uthaug (Tomb Raider, The Wave, Cold Prey), who also wrote the screenplay with Espen Aukan. In Troll, the director draws from his previous experience to combine the traditional Emmerichian disaster movie (complete with cheesy dialogue, albeit in a self-conscious way) with old Norwegian folklore. The result seems custom-made for export to international audiences. It’s a brave move, both original and, at the same time, not. The question is: does it work?
With the crisis team assembled, Nora and the Prime Minister’s aide, Andreas Isaksen (played by Kim Falck), heads toward the site in a helicopter to find out more about the creature. The trip takes them through the wild nature of Norwegian Gudbrandsdalen, where the devastation is everywhere. Captain Kristoffer Holm (played by Mads Sjøgård Pettersen) from the Norwegian Special Forces notices that the creature’s tracks have suddenly stopped.
With no way forward in their investigation, the team reluctantly asks the only person who might know the answers to what’s really going on: Nora’s eccentric father, a conspiracy theorist and folklorist specializing in ancient Norwegian trolls. They find out that the creature is heading toward the capital, and the military is mobilized to stop it at all costs.
The film draws heavy inspiration from other films featuring giant monsters, most notably the King Kong and Godzilla franchises, and can be seen as a clear homage to this particular genre. The cliches are many, and to the Norwegian viewer, it is sometimes overly noticeable that the film is meant to be streamed by an international audience. The creature’s actions can easily be seen as a response to climate change and the destruction of natural habitats. The trigger for the events is the expansion of a railway through the pristine nature of the Dovre Mountains of Norway. Faith is also a central theme: not in a religious sense, but in other people, in fairytales, conspiracy theories, and the supernatural.
Ine Marie Wilman does an excellent job as the down-to-earth action heroine, and Kim Falck’s portrayal of the constantly nervous and jittery aide to the Prime Minister is amusing as the film’s comic relief. And the film looks great, with the amazing Norwegian nature and wilderness playing a key role and CGI that makes Norwegian fairytales come alive in a way never seen before.
Troll is great, popcorn-y fun, with lots of action and excitement. It is at times painfully cliche but combined with the original look and theme, it works well, and it is great to see directors like Roar Uthaug export Norwegian culture and folklore abroad in such a way.