Review | Video

Great tales of two monsters: 'Troll Hunter' and 'Gruffalo'

Take a dash of “Blair Witch Project,” throw in some camp and top it off with a bit of “Cloverfield,” and you get Norway’s immensely enjoyable “Troll Hunter.”

If you think you know your trolls from the old “Billy Goats Gruff” story, think again.

Three college film students head into the woods following a strange guy who’s been seen around the area at the sites of attacks attributed to bears. But they quickly learn the truth: The government is covering up the existence of trolls, which have inexplicably gone on a number of recent rampages. And the man they’ve been following is the country’s troll hunter.

How do we know this? All their video footage was found and sent to a Norwegian film company, which verified its authenticity. The whereabouts of the students and the troll hunter are unknown.

But why these kids disappear is not for the reason you’d suspect, at least not at first.

The movie hits all the high points of this newer tradition in filmmaking — from shaky footage to agonized close-ups of scared young people. But unlike many of its predecessors, this film doesn’t just tease us with sound and fleeting glances.

After a few of those, we get the full shebang, and the trolls are very cool.

The whole movie is very cool — and dryly humorous. After one troll is dispatched, Hans takes the kids (Johanna, Thomas and Kalle) to a local diner, where he fills out some government paperwork and tells them about the many different kinds of trolls.

In another instance, Hans has to make sure none of them are Christians, because trolls can smell the blood of Christians. Muslims? Guess we’ll find out.

In moments large and small, “Troll Hunter” is a lot of fun (rated PG-13). Let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t muck it up in the inevitable remake. (Chris Columbus has bought the rights.)

Come back to Geek Watch Friday, when I’ll be giving away “Troll Hunter” DVDs.

‘The Gruffalo’

A different type of monster is the subject of this Oscar-nominated animated short.
Based on the children’s picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, it’s the story of a mouse who evades capture by telling his potential predators he’s meeting the scary Gruffalo, which he thinks he’s made up.

But then he actually meets the beast.

With stunning visuals and marvelous facial expressions, the film is a delight from beginning to end. It’s got a who’s who of British talent doing voices, including Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane (both of the “Harry Potter” franchise, among others) and John Hurt (“Merlin”).

Watch with “Troll Hunter” for an amusing afternoon, though I wouldn’t recommend “TH” for the little ones.

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.