BANGOR, Maine — Wednesday night’s screening of “The Troll Hunter” at the Bangor Opera House, as part of the KahBang Film Festival, was a well-attended hoot. The movie is equal parts “The Blair Witch Project” and classic fairy tale fable, combining campy horror movie tactics with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. A team of college students follow a literal troll hunter into the Norwegian wilderness to track and (usually) kill trolls, the existence of which the Norwegian government has attempted to keep hidden from the general public. There are plenty of plot holes and over-the-top scenes of the group being chased by trolls of all sizes, shapes and smells. But the filmmakers know that the film is a bit silly, and that regardless of the weak links in plot it’s an entertaining, fast-paced romp through the fjords, climaxing in a mountaintop shoot-out with a Jotnar — the Godzilla of trolls.
It’s perfect popcorn fare for summer viewing, and it’s a perfect fit for the KahBang Film Festival, which balances campy and funny films with more serious documentaries and features. Wednesday’s large crowd, ready for the double feature of “The Troll Hunter” with the sci-fi B-movie classic “Starship Troopers,” was game for anything. A mixed bag of downtown Bangor denizens and area film buffs, mostly in their 20s, showed that screenings like what KahBang is offering this week have an audience in the Queen City. Here’s hoping there are more opportunities to see fun, engaging movies in town during the rest of the year.
After the double feature, KahBang attendees ambled down the street to Paddy Murphy’s Pub, where Portland trio The Milkman’s Union took the stage around 10 p.m. Vocalist and guitarist Henry Jamison combines complex indie rock with a gentle country sway, along with intelligent lyrics and an idiosyncratic vocal style. Bassist Alex Hernandez and drummer Peter McLaughlin work in lock-tight formation with Jamison, complimenting the rhythmic and melodic twists and turns the songs take. Their music is reminiscent of the lower-key songs of Yo La Tengo, or a more stripped-down Grizzly Bear. If Radiohead was more influenced by country and folk music than by electronic and jazz, they’d probably sound a bit like The Milkman’s Union. They’re one of the most solid bands to come out of Portland’s flourishing indie rock scene, and their Wednesday night show at Paddy’s was their third Bangor appearance in as many months. There should be more musical cross-pollination between the two cities.
Thursday night’s KahBang events include the “pre-game” party at the Sea Dog, starting at 7:15 p.m., featuring the music of Jenna Campbell, The Okay Win, Marion Grace, The Class Machine and The Wandas. The KahBang Arts Mixer at Kaleidoscope Gallery goes from 7 to 10 p.m., and features Newport’s own The Thriftways and DJ Thom. The Bangor Opera House will screen the audience-selected film favorite from the festival, starting at 8 p.m. And Friday, of course, is day one of the two-day music festival. Clear your Kah-schedules and get to Kah-Bangor!