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Film Reviews Reese The Movie: A Movie About Reese is a candy-coated ode to the ASMR phenomenon ... but also, a very dull chocolate advertisement

REESE Canada brings ASMR to the masses in first ever feature-length ASMR film: REESE The Movie: A Movie About REESE.

CNW Group/Hershey Canada Inc.

Reese The Movie: A Movie about Reese

Directed by: Jamie Webster

Classification: N/A; 82 minutes

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Movie rating: 2 out of 4 stars

Recall, if you can, the 2019 Super Bowl ad that saw actress Zoe Kravitz whispering softly into directional microphones and tapping a bottle of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold light lager (only 85 calories!) How did it make you feel? Did it make you feel calm, or were you inexplicably creeped out? Perhaps in an attempt to associate watery beer with good vibes, the Michelob commercial was intended to produce “ASMR” (autonomous sensory meridian response), a feeling that’s best described as frisson-like “tingles” that typically wash over one’s head and neck like a particularly strong hit of serotonin.

Make sense? It’s okay if it doesn’t. ASMR is a fast-growing movement on the internet, where creators (or, as they’re lovingly referred to, “ASMRtists”) perform a range of ASMR-inducing triggers: tapping, whispering, crinkling … pretty much anything, so long as it sounds, for lack of a better word, good. If you’ve ever enjoyed the feeling of getting your hair cut (triggers include: personal attention and the polite snip-snip-snip of scissors), strangers on YouTube are happy to recreate the experience.

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Four months have passed since the Michelob commercial aired in living rooms across North America, but the (advertising) world has never been the same. On June 9, Canadian streaming service Crave is premiering Reese The Movie: A Movie About Reese, a piece of branded content that unites a group of ASMRtists to quietly talk about, and fastidiously interact with, Reese Peanut Butter Cups over 82 minutes.

The “movie,” if we’re calling it that, is “Presented in ASMR,” which makes about as much sense as “Experience it in Romantic Comedy.” Still, it gets the point across: Viewers won’t be watching Reese The Movie for a compelling narrative on the sticky situations between peanut butter and chocolate (although maybe Hollywood should get on that?). Nevertheless, it opens with a James Bond-esque credits sequence – imagine, say, 007 in the Land of Chocolate – that introduces the cast one by one: ASMR Darling (2.3 million YouTube subscribers), Gibi ASMR (2 million), Matty Tingles (250,000), and Canadian ASMRtists ALB in Whisperland (152,000) and Seafoam Kitten (142,000).

This intro is the most visually interesting sequence of the entire movie, but that’s a given: Told over five acts (with titles such as “Elation” and “Satisfaction”), Reese consists entirely of five people sitting at a table whispering about their favourite candy. Spoiler alert: It ain’t M&Ms.

“On a very, very, very, very, very quiet day in 2019, in the quietest room known to exist on Earth, five individuals, and a substantial amount of Reese Peanut Butter Cups, gather to explore the deepest corners of the mind of a Reese fan,” says a deep male voice as the five ASMRtists take their seats at the table. For anyone who doesn’t “get” ASMR, what follows is unwatchably dull – like watching neon orange paint dry. And for those unlucky enough to experience misophonia, the aural opposite of pleasant tingles, Reese The Movie is basically a spin off of the Saw franchise.

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But this is made for fans of ASMR, who are extremely well-versed in intentionally boring content – ASMR videos, often with extended running times, are watched to fall asleep, so fans should be right at home as five beloved ASMRtists ramble off banalities. Take Gibi ASMR’s opening monologue: “I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my life,” she says. “I’ve thought about how weird it is that chairs have legs, but don’t wear pants.” (I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but cannabis is legal now.) Repetitive? Yes. Soporific? I suppose. It’s all pleasantly absurd.

“Is ‘Reese’ a word? ‘Let’s ‘Reese’ something!" ASMR Darling whispers later. “When I put it like that, ‘Reese’ really doesn’t sound like a word. But then again, everything is a word. Even ‘word’ is a word. So ‘Reese’ is a word. I like that.”

Whether the movie is a success or not comes down to the conceit: Does it produce ASMR? In short, yes and no. Mileage will vary here – one person’s triggers are another’s nails on a chalkboard – and personally, as someone who regularly listens to ASMR videos before bed, I found it nearly impossible for my brain to forget I was being sold something. Is a horror film still scary if you watch it in maximum daylight? Certainly, the elements are there – but it’s unlikely you’re in the right headspace.

Such was the case with my viewing of Reese The Movie, an objectively unique thing with wildly subjective content. My lack of tingles aside, let’s not forget that this is patently an ad – and I haven’t, since watching, opted for a deliciously chewy peanut butter cup.

Reese The Movie: A Movie About Reese is available to stream on Crave starting June 7.

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