By Tara Judah

Oddly billed as ‘a Swedish answer to Twin Peaks’, Giants and the Morning After is anything but. Following the often-mundane activity and conversation of a handful of residents going about their rural lives, Giants has a visual quietude that fits its locale.

The Ydre Municipality in Sweden is a large piece of land with a small population. A tenuous link to the other worldliness of Twin Peaks could be drawn in the shape of its landscape, complete with waters deep and verdant trees. But here, folklore soothes rather than looms over lush forests.

The choice of advertorial speaks to a widespread desire to make rural destinations out to be odd, abrasive and frightening places; they are othered against a presumed normative function of diversity and density in cosmopolitan spaces. But what’s most eerie is that this is the exact opposite of what the film hopes to achieve.

Here is a straight up look at the problems of depopulation, specific to Sweden’s geographic size in a world where places to live and thrive are the scarcity that fill our city-centric newsfeeds. And thus: Giants becomes agitated, evangelical, and proudly stamps its feet. It’s not about what ungodly creatures the woods harbour that enthralls – let’s leave that to the fancy of genre, David Bruckner’s British horror The Ritual from 2017 does it well enough – instead, it’s about how a problem might also be a solution, even in so disappointingly an historically politically placid place as Sweden.

Literally going door-to-door with gifts to congratulate new parents and encouraging them to birth more before they’ve even managed to get a good night’s sleep in, the mayor has focused all of his (sometimes unwanted) attention on repopulating the region. Happily, another solution is glimpsed through the mist of the trees: re-settling refugees. Simple and even obvious for its genius, this is the clear air of the morning after, finally free from the stronghold of those apathetic nationalistic giants from the past.

Director: Alexander Rynéus, Malla Grapengiesser, Per Bifrost
88 min