The Dark Side of Fairy tales: Trollhunter and Hansel & Gretel

As much as I enjoy a big blockbuster film sometimes it good to watch something a bit more obscure and genuinely surprising. This week I watched two dark fantasy/horror films based on myths and fairy tales. Trollhunter is a 2010 Norwegian film and Hansel and Gretel, a 2007 South Korean film.

Trollhunter is a ‘found footage’ movie with a dark sense of humour running throughout. The film follows three college students doing a documentary of a suspected poacher called Hans and trying to get an interview with him. While following him they soon discover about the existence of trolls and that he is hired by the government to hunt them.

Trollhunter does have some jumps in it but also revels in placing its absurd concept in the real world. As well as hunting trolls, Hans also has to fill in paperwork for each troll he kills (which then leads you to ask your own questions such as does he get sick leave, a yearly bonus?). Otto Jespersen is great as the weary Hans who tires of how the government treats him. Although the trolls are dumb and destructive and like to eat people, you also wonder if humans aren’t just as bad.

Hansel and Gretel is short on laughs but big on creepy imagery and uncomfortable tension. A man has a car accident and wakes up in the woods lost. A young girl finds him and brings him back to her house with her parents, brother and sister. Unfortunately once he has rested the man finds it impossible to leave the woods. Then things start getting really weird.

To say any more would be to ruin the film which works best the little you know about it as you wonder what the hell is going on. You are unsure what to make of the family he finds himself with, especially the kids who change from cute to creepy in an instance.

Although it’s named after the Grimm’s fairytale and the story is referenced in the film, this is not a faithful adaptation of the tale. It’s also not a horror film in the traditional sense relying more on tension and a feeling of dread then an overreliance on gore. It also has an unexpected emotional core to the film.

Both films are ones that try and defy your expectations. Trollhunter is a refreshing take on the overpopulated ‘found footage’ doing its best to make trolls seem scary while also having a dark sense of humour throughout. Hansel and Gretel is much darker and much more confusing as you try and work out what is going on. But stick with it and you’ll find it’s worth waiting for the revelations that come at the end.

If you’re looking for something a bit different to your regular fairy tales and you’re not afraid of subtitles then I’d eagerly recommend them both. And then you can return to your regular all action blockbuster.

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