Netflix UK film review: Troll 2
Direction and acting1
Script and effects1
Matthew Turner | On 24, Jun 2017
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Cast: George Hardy, Margo Prey, Deborah Reed
Watch Troll 2 online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Immortalised in the terrific 2009 documentary Best Worst Movie (directed by child star Michael Paul Stephenson), this atrocious 1990 horror flick has a richly deserved reputation as one of the worst films ever made – at one time it had a 0 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it’s now at 6 per cent) and was the lowest-rated movie on the IMDb (that honour now belongs to 2015’s Code Name: K.O.Z.). However, while Troll 2 is undeniably awful, there’s plenty to enjoy if you’re a fan of epically terrible movies.
Directed by Claudio Fragasso (an Italian who apparently spoke no English on set), the film centres on 10-year-old Joshua Waits (Stephenson), whose recently deceased Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) keeps visiting him to warn him about the dangers of ravenous goblins. Shortly afterwards, his family – father Michael (George Hardy), mother Diana (Margo Prey) and teenage sister Holly (Connie McFarland) – embark on a house-swap vacation in the suspiciously named small town of Nilbog.
Before you can say “Nilbog is goblin spelled backwards!”, the family are targeted by meat-hating goblins, who try to feed them chlorophyll-infused food that will turn them into the sort of vegetable matter goblins like to eat.
Perhaps you have already spotted that the plot synopsis for Troll 2 doesn’t have anything to do with trolls? Well, that’s correct: there are zero trolls in this movie, and, while we’re at it, it’s not a sequel to 1986’s Troll, either – the film was retitled by producers who thought its original title (Goblins) wouldn’t sell.
There’s so much that’s terrible about Troll 2 that it’s difficult to know where to begin. The acting, for starters, is utterly woeful. That’s not entirely surprising, given that the entire cast (most of whom were non-professionals) apparently turned up hoping to be extras and were then cast in lead roles. As a result, the various line readings have to be heard to be believed. Special mention should go to Deborah Reed (as local witch Creedence Leonore Gielgud), who embarks on an entirely different style of bad acting from the rest of the cast and draws out every line like she’s getting paid per second of screen time.
If there’s one thing worse than the acting, it’s the special effects, although it’s a close-run thing. The goblin make-up extends to a bunch of awful-looking, immoveable masks (some of which are clearly different creatures entirely) and burlap sack clothing, stuffed with pillows. The producers clearly spent a sizeable proportion of the budget on green food colouring, given the sheer amount of green-tinged comestibles and the way it’s used as an icky blood substitute once the humans have consumed the chlorophyll and are ready for eating.
Directing under the pseudonym Drako Floyd, Fragasso does at least have an eye for the occasional creepy or off-the-wall moment and manages a couple of decent jump-scares, but he frequently spoils things by letting scenes run on too long and repeating moments we’ve already seen, such as goblins getting kicked down flights of stairs.
Despite its spectacular ineptitude, however, there are a number of laugh-out-loud highlights that make this worth your while in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. Chief among these are an “erotic” seduction sequence involving a corn-on-the-cob, a scene involving a teenager trapped in a giant plant pot, some unexpected homoeroticism, every appearance of Ormsby’s Grandpa Seth (who can apparently stop time, for some reason) and the genius moment when Joshua decides that the only way to stop his family from eating their evening meal is to urinate all over it. Glorious.
Troll 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.