Friday, April 1, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Troll 2

(see also the 13-minute video here)


Okay, okay… Troll 2. Possibly the worst movie ever made, this film is best known for a YouTube meme reproducing and playing with a clip. “They’re eating her! And then they’regoing to eat me! Oh, my God!” It is extremely hard to watch this movie without laughing out loud.

Despite its status as a walking joke, it is still an attempted serious narrative, and it can still be analyzed. Yes, it can. Once you look past all the crap, it’s basically your standard monster movie story with themes of good vs. evil and mysticism, and you can analyze the gender portrayals there.

So, you have this nuclear family with a son and a daughter. The son, Joshua, is the hero of the piece because of his spiritual connection to his dead Grandpa Seth, who has all the intel on the goblins. These two are the main protagonists and are the only ones who can actually do anything to subvert the goblin threat. The daughter, Holly, is defined primarily through her relationship with her boyfriend, Elliot, who she feels spends too much time with his guy friends. In order to persuade him to dump his friends, she threatens to withhold sex from him. Holly is also shown energetically exercising, but the main part of her character comes from her relationship with Elliot, who is mainly there to bring his friends to Nilbog and add to the green-bloody slaughter.

Of the parents, the mother, Diane, is more empathetic and caring toward Joshua than the father, Michael. When Joshua pees on the cursed food to prevent his family from eating it and turning into plant mush, Michael drags his son upstairs to punish him. Diane yells to Michael not to hit Joshua because he’s just, you know, acting out and stuff. Michael being violent shows the trait of aggression, which is generally accepted to be masculine, while Diane’s empathy and desire for a peaceable solution is considered a feminine characteristic. You could extrapolate that Michael might be an abusive father, tying in with the themes of aggression coming from the goblins… but this is Troll 2, so you’d be a moron. Anyway, later, Michael sticks up for his son against the creepy villagers, so you get the idea he’s a caring father.

Okay, so Elliot’s friend Arnold sees this young woman fleeing in fear and decides to help her. He plays the hero and tries to tell the goblins to back off. Even though they just stab him and they’re forced to run together, this demonstrates traditional horror film gender roles. So, they seek shelter at this church, which is actually the residence of the goblin queen, Credence, played by the worst actress in history. Credence feeds the woman a potion that causes her to transform into plant mush, and then…

To give the movie some credit, at least they’re both victimized here. But, yeah, Credence is our arch-villain of the piece, determined to transform people into plants so they can be eaten by vegan goblins. I don’t think it’s antifeminist just to have a female villain, so her mere presence isn’t particularly problematic unless you’re judging her acting. What is problematic is how she attacks Brent, Elliot’s other friend, by assuming the role of seductress. The popcorn part’s just weird, though.

To make a long, painfully bad story short, Joshua and his family defeat the goblins… or so they think. They all return home. Joshua tries to recover from the traumatic events, but then the goblins show up, turn Diane into plant mush, and eat her in front of him. As his mother, Diane is the person Joshua cares about most, and she is victimized for the emotional impact on the male character. This falls in with the women-in-refrigerators trope.

And that’s a feminist analysis of Troll 2. Man, that was hard to write. The movie’s just so bad it’s hard to think about it seriously. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll return to laughing at the absurdity of this movie.


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