The Tall Man (2012) Movie Review
Those of you familiar with Pascal Laugier’s much lauded Martyrs may be expecting more of the same from his latest endeavor; that certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing. But, neither is this. First off, for you horror fans out there, The Tall Man is not a horror film by any means. It has a great deal of action, a few brutal moments and plenty of surprises, but it’s not horror. If that is what you are looking for, call off the search and head in another direction. However, if you are merely a cinephile, looking for something with which to feed that insatiable hunger for film, you’re on the right track.
The Tall Man takes place in a small town where the local doctor has recently died and now the clinic is being run by his widow, Mrs. Denning, who is also a nurse (Biel). All would be peaceful here except that something has its sights set on the youngsters of the town and they are being swiped left and right. When Mrs. Denning’s own son gets taken, she goes on a mission to get him back, safe and sound. But things are not always what they seem, especially in a small town. And, as we soon discover in this case, things are way off what they seem. As for the rest, you’ll have to watch it to know it.
I enjoyed this film despite the fact that I was expecting to be terrified. Even though it’s not horror as traditionally defined, The Tall Man does have its moments. If you are a fan of Laugier, he is still in there and it’s obvious. The story of The Tall Man is based on actual legends that have been around for ages. The story may differ some depending upon where you’re from, but the basic idea is always the same: watch your children. Laugier takes that fear, grapples with it for a bit, throws in his own brand of nasty and gives it right back, no worse for the wear. The screenplay is dark, taut and thoughtful. And, even if fear is not the emotion you are likely to experience, I can guarantee plenty of others will be thrown into the mix. Laugier manages to grip your insides just as he did with Martyrs, but the hand isn’t quite as cold or clammy. And, again, you should have plenty to discuss about this film once you regain the ability to think and speak.
As for the performances, they were solid. Jodelle Ferland (Case 39) turns in a fantastic performance as Jenny. The only complaints I have about the film are that Stephen McHattie was sorely underused as Lt. Dodd, and I believe Jessica Biel was miscast as Mrs. Denning. Her role requires a lot of emotional flip-flopping and I just don’t feel that she pulled it off as well as this part deserves. I don’t have anything against Ms. Biel, I usually enjoy her work, but I feel that a more seasoned emotional actress with a broader range could have done better with bringing me closer to the character. Also, for several reasons, I couldn’t stop picturing her role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. For those reasons, I wasn’t affected as much as I could have been and that is regrettable. But you shouldn’t have that problem if you just let go and follow Mr. Laugier. He is a competent guide through those things that make us squirm.