The faux-documentary is taking over the world.
The Blair Witch Project opened our eyes to its true potential, Cloverfield blew it up into a bona fide moneymaking opportunity and now filmmakers around the world are capitalizing on the ease and milage of the mock doc. When a movie like Paranormal Activity can be shot, edited and delivered for $15,000 and gross over $100 million, it’s a no brainer that budding Spielberg’s would want a piece of the action.
But the fad is wearing thin – a whole slate of new low-budget, shaky cam flicks are on the horizon, and more are being greenlit everyday. How many “missing tapes” can be discovered with surprisingly well-edited, shocking footage?
Leave it to international filmmakers to figure out how to keep the style fresh. Yesterday, Sundance premiered the Norwegian film The Troll Hunter, a monster mockumentary that is less Cloverfield than informational nature documentary with splashes of troll attacks. The film centers on three college students who stumble upon the find of a century: an aging hunter whose job is to control the ever-growing troll population using an array of monster murdering techniques. For added effect, the film is shot from the first person perspective, the “footage” being – you guessed it – tapes recovered from the students’ documentary. Lucky find.
Troll Hunter sounds like a rehash of dusty ideas, but the film keeps us on our toes with lively, realistic characters and surprisingly cross-language humor. Watching 50-foot tall trolls explode and turn to stone doesn’t hurt either.
That’s the key to the evolution of the mock doc. No longer can we turn on the camera and stage a few supernatural events. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. What will keep our attention and have us coming back for more are the people behind the camera. The person in first-person. That’s why Troll Hunter won’t fail to impress when Magnet releases it sometime in 2011.