Troll Hunter: Are Trolls the New Vampires for 2017?

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Could trolls become the new vampires?

Over the past decade, we’ve been deluged by what seems like a never-ending supply of vampire movies and television shows. The Twilight saga and Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have been momentarily entertaining, but they’re nothing compared to the ghoulish delights that could await us if the emergent troll phenomenon really takes off. Of course we don’t mean an unexpected return to popularity for the small dolls that had long crazy coloured hair, we mean the sunlight-hating beings from Norse mythology that dwell in isolated locations!

Trolls: Been There, Done That?

Despite their lack of good looks, trolls have long been an established part of the big screen scene. One of their most impressive outings came in the form of their depiction in the Hobbit movies. Trolls are a much-loved part of Middle Earth, where their portrayal as beings with more depth to them than the “bumbling fool” stereotype saw them cast as a vicious enemy to Bilbo and his friends. This depiction proved that they can be major stars if brought to life by the right accent (the Cockney accent in the Hobbit helped a great deal!).

Aside from Cockney trolls though, the satirical depiction of trolls is still a popular one, with 1986’s Troll still one of the most unintentionally amusing films of all time thanks to a daft plot and some comically low-budget special effects. Sometimes the beauty is all in the simplicity of the name, eh?

However, one of the most widely-celebrated instances of troll-mania occurred only recently, when the Norwegian cult movie Troll Hunter came to Netflix in the UK and recruited a legion of fans. A big part of the success of the movie focused on the way that it used the concept of found footage to maintain the mystery surrounding the towering trolls, and with an American version of Troll Hunter already in the pipeline and the Dreamworks Trolls kids film released in 2016, it looks like the big and little screen excitement surrounding trolls will only continue to grow.

Battling Trolls in the Gaming World

It’s not just in the multiplexes where trolls have been creeping stealthily into the mainstream; they’ve also been entering popular culture through some surprising mediums, and not just ones with a fantasy slant. Take a quick glance at the World of Warcraft phenomenon and you’ll realise that trolls have been occupying our beloved gaming platforms for quite some time. Most games that have a Tolkien theme also, obviously, tend to benefit from some troll action, whilst we also saw trolls heavily feature in the classic strategy video game Dungeon Keeper, in which gamers had to build their own dungeon, protecting it from invaders and monsters and accumulating stolen treasure. 

Console and PC gaming have obviously had to compete with huge growth in the world of mobile gaming, which grew 53% to $11.9 billion in the first three months of 2017, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, and the troll trend has transferred across to this platform too. Available both on mobiles and desktops slot games, based on stories from Norse mythology have also proved popular with gamers, which makes a welcome change from the gothic world of vampires dominating the gaming world. Troll Hunters, for instance, which can be played with Mr Smith Casino, allows gamers to play out their troll fantasies on a 5×5 grid with stunning troll-inspired symbols. It all takes place amid snow-covered mountains underneath a chilly blue sky, and it’s not just trolls themselves there to inspire gamers; the troll-hunting girls also introduce themes of female leads taking on trolls that have been developed in other genres like literature (more on that later). 

The Growth of Troll Fiction

Although the massive lumbering trolls might not be quite as physically appealing as many of pop culture’s vampiric offerings, there’s hope for troll culture yet thanks to Amanda Hocking’s Trylle series of books. These offer a suitably teenage take on the troll concept by locating a tribe of the monsters somewhere in remote Minnesota, placing a young girl in their midst with all manner of spooky escapades to follow.

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It may be some time before this project reaches the dizzying heights of the Twilight franchise (although it’s worth remembering that Hocking originally self-published the series as e-books, amassing over 1.5 million sales), but the 2011/2012 Trylle series was snapped up by District 9 screenwriter Terri Tatchell and there are plans in motion to make this piece of cult fiction into a major Hollywood blockbuster.

With all manner of troll-based mobile games, young adult books and cult movie and TV releases, it’s time for the vampires to make way for the rise of the troll as the mythical beings look to hog the limelight (although they probably won’t hog it too much what with their lack of an affinity with sunlight..!) 

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Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!

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