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Troll-A-Long with a Rent-A-Cop: A Thug Life Tour Guide to the Reno City Zoo indie film review

Directed by #AntonIagounov

Film review by Nathanial Eker

With a title as bombastic as that, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. Troll-A-Long offers an intriguing premise, blending reality and fiction into a mockumentary that initially appears to comment on pressing social issues, before droning into tangents about the perks of being a ‘badass’, with little narrative rhyme or reason. The film’s stylistics are equally obtuse, culminating in a messy 90 minutes that limps along on the perks of its personality alone.

Francis Beacon (played by Writer / Director Anton Iagounov) is an undercover cop. We follow him as he patrols the streets of Reno, uncovering a criminal conspiracy. Everything we know about Beacon is implicitly told through endless monologues, creating two film-breaking issues; 1) we meet no other characters with which to relate to, empathise with, or observe: even a documentary must offer narrative basics like antagonists, deuterogamists, and players with whom we can invest in, lest it devolve into a game of playground hearsay. 2) It gives us no sense of Beacon as a person. He can say describe his many qualities all he likes, but as all we witness are low-level confrontations with squatters, it comes off as overblown fluff. The film at least provides an excellent example of why screenwriting rule number one, ‘show don’t tell’, remains so vital.

The sound design is equally incomprehensible. During conflict with the aforementioned squatters (allegedly taken from real patrols), Iagounov bafflingly includes inane pieces of music and pop culture sound effects for … some reason. Yes, in one dreadfully long tangent analysing the state of the world, Beacon refers to chasing criminals as a game of Pac-Man but this doesn’t provide licence to include random non-diegetic sounds that destroy any semblance of seriousness, realism, or tension.

Finally, the decision to present the entire film, stock footage and all, with a bizarre, high contrast filter is painfully misguided. Protecting the identity of those involved is one thing, but as a supposedly semi-real crime drama, would a simple blurred face not do the job? Alongside the poor dialogue and monotonous pace, this strange choice does nothing to align the audience to our main character, leaving us uninvested in anything that happens. Which isn’t much.

Is there any merit within Troll-A-Long, besides its boast of perhaps the longest film title in history? If you navigate through the waffle, there is at its core, an interesting tale of corruption and a fascinating insight into a criminal underworld. Had it been stripped of its flab, cut down to forty minutes, and given us a true protagonist, this could’ve been an intriguing look at the niche topic of small-town crime. Unfortunately, as is, it fails to hit almost any positive beats in terms of narrative or stylistics. Our advice is to avoid renting this cop, and instead rent a different film.



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