Movie Review: Deep South teen murders, “The Giant” is busy

“The Giant” is a colossal waste of time, 100 minutes of underlit scenes filled with (mostly) high school characters whispering every single profundity that writer/director David Raboy can think of putting in their mouths in a story that never engages us or even tries to.

It’s a stunningly dull Deep South thriller about kids trying “make one last memory” after another with a serial killer taking out teen girls from the area, one at a time.

Raboy’s script isn’t so much cryptic as obtuse, with the kids whispering on and on, all nostalgic for the lives they just graduated from, heedlessly partying and hitting The Ole Swimmin’ Hole and attributing the deaths to some unseen, unknowable “giant in the woods.”

Heedless youth ignoring the COVID virus analogies might work, but the film was finished before the pandemic.

Aussie Odessa Young of “Assassination Nation,” “A Million Little Pieces” and the upcoming remake of “The Stand” does a fine American accent. But as Charlotte, her whispered vocal fry here, half-remembering the suicide of her mother, dealing with the deflated but menacing boyfriend (Ben Schnetzer) she’s trying to move on from, mumbling off the attempts to explain himself from her police chief father (P.J. Marshall) is sleep-inducing tedium itself.

That boyfriend is a poet in a pick-up truck, I tell you what — “All this sweat, this humidity…when I felt myself melt into you…I just needed to stand in your light again.”

Charlotte tends to bring that out in people, as in her BFF Olivia (Madalyn Cline), who philosophizes that “sometimes, we need people to not listen to us.”

Our heroine is in a muted, slack-jawed shock over what’s going on here and over Monroeville way. She brushes off Joe, keeps clumsy-flirt Will (Jack Kilmer) at arm’s length and tries to get these shallow ditzes to care.

“We saw Daphne on her last night on Earth.”

Her friends are all “It’ll be over before you know it,” in Bud Light denial.

Raboy tells much of the story after dark, and some scenes are so poorly lit that you can’t tell who Charlotte is sitting with in this car or that truck. Extreme closeups keep Young front and center, the only one meriting light in many of those moments.

The odd “Fi, fie, foe fum” thumping footsteps and screams from the forest should ratchet up the suspense, but dangle here like unanswered questions. Is this some psychic reckoning for careless kids, some payback for a perceived wrong, maybe committed by someone they all know?

From the look of things, our writer-director has no more grasp of the answers to the questions he half-asks than the viewer does.

MPA Rating: unrated, murder, teen drinking, smoking, suggestions of sex

Cast: Odessa Young, Ben Schnetzer, Jack Kilmer, Madalyn Cline, P.J. Marshall

Credits: Scripted and directed by David Raboy. A Vertical Entertainment release.

Running time: 1:40

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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