Starring Atreyu himself, Noah Hathaway, “Troll” is perhaps less a straight horror movie than it is a dark fantasy. If there’s such a thing as adorable terror, “Troll” manages to strike that weird balance.

When a wicked troll king in search of a magical ring that will enable him to become human takes over a San Francisco apartment block, it’s up to young Harry Potter (Noah Hathaway) to learn from the powerful witch who lives there and defeat the evil once and for all.

Now you might very well think that there’s something oddly familiar about a young boy called Harry Potter finding out that there’s a magical world hidden behind the everyday one and then learning how to fight an evil magical ruler from an old witch. You might very well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

“Troll” comes across as a watered-down “Poltergeist” knock-off, a cheap and cheerful homage which, unlike the Tobe Hooper/ Spielberg collaboration classic, drifts in the opposite direction: further and further from horror as the story progresses. In many ways, it’s almost a mash-up of that film with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” although there’s very little bottom on show.

In amidst all the spooky fantasy fun, it takes a couple of weirdly specific digs at “Star Trek” for no particular reason although maybe it’s the presence of “Lost In Space” matriarch June Lockhart as resident witch Eunice St Clair that stoked the shade for the rival sci-fi series.

The cast are actually pretty good – much better than this kind of fare usually merits – and in addition to the “The Neverending Story” and “Lost In Space” alums, there’s a decent turn from Michael Moriarty (unlike his atrocious performance the previous year in “The Stuff”), a cameo by Sonny Bono and the screen debut of one Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

It’s no horror classic but it is a family-friendly spooky fantasy adventure that plays out like a fairy tale version of “Batteries Not Included”, a similarly apartment-block set fantasy.

5/10 

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