TIFF Review: 'The Giant' Is a Confusing ASMR Fever Dream Directed by David Raboy

Starring Odessa Young, Ben Schnetzer, Jack Kilmer, Madelyn Cline, Danny Ramirez, PJ Marshall
TIFF Review: 'The Giant' Is a Confusing ASMR Fever Dream Directed by David Raboy
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Graduating high school is supposed to be a celebration, but The Giant certainly isn't any fun. It's a surreal, stream-of-consciousness glimpse into the summer after high school for small-town American teenager Charlotte (Odessa Young). Her mother died a year earlier, her ex-boyfriend re-emerges after an unexplained absence, and there's a series of killings of young women in town.
 
So how does it all connect and what does it mean? Who the hell knows? The Giant jumps jarringly from scene to scene, practically cutting characters off mid-sentence as the film suddenly snaps forward to the next vignette. Charlotte is emotionally unravelling and she constantly has a cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth like she's in Guns N' Roses, but she never really voices her grief. Her character development doesn't really go beyond shedding silent tears and having vivid, possibly delusional dreams.
 
The gravity of the horror elements (teens dying, a supernatural figure known as "the Giant") are an awkward contrast to the teenage sentimentality; these vaguely angsty kids can't seem to quite figure out if they're worried about people dying, or if they're sad about drifting apart after high school.
 
It's all quite lovely to look at, with the lightning storms, 4th of July fireworks and teenagers hanging out on docks creating an appealingly gothic portrait of small-town Americana. But the droning ambient soundtrack becomes cloying as the characters incessantly speak in slow whispers. Seriously, why does everyone speak so quietly in this thing?
 
This might appeal to ASMR lovers, but for everyone else, The Giant is a fever dream you'll want to wake up from. (Camera Ready Pictures)