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A Movie Review on The Tall Man (2012)

Updated on January 7, 2014
Theatrical poster for The Tall Man
Theatrical poster for The Tall Man | Source

Most of you that know of Pascal Laugier will know him from his very controversial film, Martyrs. Those who haven't seen Martyrs will be introduced to a very mild Laugier here in The Tall Man. Martyrs remains one of my favorite horror films of all-time. It's gritty, disturbing, and doesn't not shy away from violence at all, but it has a very unique story to tell. I won't spoil it here for the sake of people who have yet to see it, but I do recommend checking it out. Many fans of Martyrs complained that The Tall Man was too mild of a film, but aside from the lack of in your face violence, it it very similar to Martyrs in that it is dark, gritty, and disturbing (subject matter), and also has a very unique story to tell. Although it's not a great at Martyrs, The Tall Man is quite a good film. It's part mystery, part horror, and part drama all rolled into one.

The story centers on a town completely decimated by economic turmoil. There are no schools, no jobs, tension is high, and poverty is the norm. As children in the town begin to disappear presumably with no trace, the town creates the local legend of "The Tall Man" as the kidnapper. Local Nurse, Julia, becomes entangled in the legend when she witnesses her child being taken by the "The Tall Man". She chases after the kidnapper, determined to get her child back, but the truth is not as it seems.

The overall story of the movie is fantastic, and features a couple of great twists that I will dare not spoil here. The set up to the film is done quite well, giving a background to the town with a voice over by Jenny, played by Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill), and telling up the legend of "The Tall Man". The one thing that stood out to me about the start of this movie was the town itself. While I do understand that there have been towns that have been extremely hard hit by the recession in America, and the town of Cold Rock in this film is a metaphor for this recession, but there is no way that a town is America would be allowed to function without a working school system or jobs. Maybe it can happen and I'm just not privy to it, but to me it seems highly unlikely, especially with the presence of the FBI in town.

Screen shot of Julia (Jessica Biel) in The Tall Man
Screen shot of Julia (Jessica Biel) in The Tall Man | Source

Another thing that bothered me was that even in a poverty striken town like this one, the idea that so many children have been disappearing and no real federal efforts are being made to find these missing children is something that completely boggles my mind. While there is the presence of the FBI in Lt. Dodd, played by Stephen McHattie (Pontypool), that's pretty much it. You'd think that by the time someone realized there was a serial kidnapper in the town, abducting children never to be seen again, more efforts would be made. Maybe because it is such a poverty stricken town, it stays off the main radar as a priority.

Those are my only real gripes about this movie. The set up in a bit unrealistic, but the rest of the movie more than makes up for these shortcomings. As the story and twists unfold things are gradually told through the actions and events of the story, without the use of exposition heavy scenes which became the downfall of the recently released Silent Hill: Revelation. While there is of course scenes of exposition, they are in no way over used or over long. While the movie is first and foremost a mystery, it does dabble in horror, but knows how far to take it. It's not jump out of your seat scary, but thematically it's scary and disturbing. A rash of child abductions is always scary no matter which way you look at it.

Screen shot of Jenny (Jodelle Ferland) in The Tall Man
Screen shot of Jenny (Jodelle Ferland) in The Tall Man | Source

The acting is pretty solid throughout, especially from the main cast of actors. Jessica Biel is does a great job as Julia, who deals with the loss of her son to "The Tall Man" and other troublesome circumstances. It's not exactly the best performance of her career but it's definitely worthy of praise. Jodelle Ferland plays Jenny, a selectively mute girl who communicates by writing things down in her journal. She delivers another great performance as she normally does in her films. Stephen McHattie, who has a much smaller than Biel and Ferland, also does well as Lt. Dodd, who is in town investigating the child disappearances for the FBI. The rest of the smaller roles in the movie feature decent acting with no real standout performance among them.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film for the great story it has to tell. I like Pascal Laugier a lot, and think he has a wonderful vision when it comes to film. If you plan on seeing this movie, which I recommend that you do, do not let the film be spoiled for you. It features some great acting all around, but falters in the set up. This happens so early on that by the end of the film you would have forgotten it ever happened.


The Tall Man was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 25th 2012

Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier

Starring Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, Jakob Davies, and William B. Davis.

Rated R. Runtime: 100 Minutes


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