In the past few years the monster movie has gone through a significant and dramatic shift. From Joon-ho’s The Host in 2006 to Edwards’ Monsters in 2010, recent monster movies have begun to rely less and less on spectacle and special effects, focusing instead on character development and realism. TrollHunter continues this trend, faux documentary style strengthened by a strong factual underpinning and realistic special effects.

There’s a strong realism throughout this film, even concerning the more mythical elements. There are reasonable and scientific explanations for almost everything, from animal behaviour to reproductive cycles. Combined with excellent special effects that nearly blend seemlessly with the beautiful Norwegian countryside and a collection of naturalistic performances, the fact-based plot and characters help create an immersive and believable story.

Unlike some faux documentary or found footage films, TrollHunter keeps the handheld camera relatively stable and never goes over the top, even when the characters are running through the woods. However, the filmmakers do take some liberties with the found footage idea and cut corners in certain situations, leaving some questions unanswered or unresolved.

TrollHunter is interesting and engrossing and demonstrates that even relatively low budgets can provide a realistic and spectacular monster movie.