When schoolgirl Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) has trouble dealing with family problems and other aspects of reality, she escapes into the woods to find, hunt and kill the giants that lurk there and threaten to destroy her small coastal town and its unsuspecting residents.
Based on Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura’s graphic novel of the same name, I Kill Giants paints a sensitive portrait of a struggling youth and combines it with the magic and adventure of epic fantasy. It’s just a shame that the film was released so soon after A Monster Calls, which tells a similar story but does so better.
Kelly may have got there first with his story in 2008, but JA Bayona’s 2016 adaptation of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls was more ambitious with its big screen retelling. Although both films take slightly different approaches to the subject matter – children dealing with family problems with the help of gigantic monsters – the correspondence between the two is uncanny and impossible not to notice, especially if you were a fan of A Monster Calls before you knew about I Kill Giants.
However, that’s not to say the latter doesn’t have its own merits. The muted colours and frankly gorgeous Northeastern coastal landscapes create a fantasy land you could actually see yourself living in. Though it deals with some heavy subjects, the atmosphere is continually cosy. It’s definitely one that would go down well with a cup of tea on a rainy day.
Madison Wolfe’s leading performance is stunning, and although she’s surrounded by a talented cast of adults she still manages to shine the brightest. Barbara acts like a classic brat through most of the film, but she’s also strangely relatable and incredibly sympathetic, even when she’s going out of her way to make things difficult for those around her. She’s a fantasy hero on a quest oozing with peril ous responsibility, but she never stops being a kid with kid problems. And the way Wolfe can swiftly go from making you smile to putting actual red hot tears in your eyes is impressive.