I continue my search for new, scary Halloween films. And I fail again at the scary. But I did get some good suspsense.
“When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.”- IMDB synopsis
Now available on video and Netflix is The Tall Man ,written and directed by Pascal Laugier (writer/director of the very disturbing Martyrs) and starring Jessica Biel as well as some familiar faces to geeks Jodelle Ferland, William B. Davis, Stephen McHattie, and Samantha Ferris.
This film has two things going against it. First there is the ”slender man” mythology that some may assume the title character suggests, and the trailer could be considered misleading. This film is not about a supernatural boogyman and is more suspenseful thriller than horror film. Going into the film knowing that may put you in the right mindset to enjoy it and just accept the ride as it comes. This is a film that is really hard to review because it could quickly go so spoilery out of necessity. But you won’t find spoilers here.
The dying mining town of Cold Rock, Washington and its surrounding woods is the setting for events that take place in a little over 36 hours. The film opens by telling us 800,000 US children are reported missing each year. Most are found in a few days but 1000 disappear without any trace. Missing children flyers litter every surface throughout Cold Rock. And of course there is the small town diner where we grow to distrust the locals in a film like this. The overall gritty look of the film reflects the drying up, desperate town and its citizens- creating a realistic atmosphere and environment which becomes a character in the film.
Biel, rocking a very appropriate plane Jane appearance, plays Julia Denning. Denning is a nurse whose doctor husband was very important to the town which misses his absence and doesn’t let Julia forget it. Pictures of Dr. and Mrs. Denning cover the walls and shelves through her home she shares with her friend Christine and little boy David. We see Julia doing what can at the makeshift community clinic, like delivering the surprise baby of a teen impregnated by her mother’s (Ferris) abusive boyfriend. Through the diner we get to know several locals and Cold Rock police while glimpsing life in Cold Rock.
After about 20 minutes of character and environment set up, the action starts. A tall hooded figure in black kidnaps David and sets Julia off in a harrowing adventure to track the little boy down as he’s driven away in a truck. This is a very intense scene and seems so honest a portrayal of a mother risking herself to save her son and moving on adrenaline and love alone. Biel’s acting is neither bad nor incredible, but she gets the job done and that benefits this role. Biel as a person radiates strength and it carries into her role as Julia. In spite of the sadness that looms from missing her husband, we do not feel like Julia needs protecting or pity. We may empathize with her but we know she’s pulling herself through.
The film is told in a disjointed way and for me, it works. First comes a quiet build up where you want to think it’s a monster under the bed story. Then it becomes a story about survival leading into a tale of real mystery. The Tall Man feels like two or three films in one. I enjoyed not knowing who to trust, the little red herrings, and the overall creepy factor of small town folks hiding a secret. The “twist” ending has given movie goers inflated expectations since The Sixth Sense, so I hesitate to use it in regards to this film. However, there are a few twists and turns and I was not expecting the film to go where it did.
And where did it go? You’ll have to watch it to find out. I can’t say the payoff is worth it, but the treading between black and gray areas make it one that will lead to conversation with those who have seen it.
Final word- not a must see, not necessarily a good film for Halloween, but an interesting, genre bending, possibly polarizing film for a late night.
Stuff we geek out about…
- A Little Something for the Fellas (2)
- A Little Something for the Ladies (9)
- Avengers Boot Camp (9)
- Before the Movie – Trailers (13)
- Editorials and Reviews (136)
- Interviews (19)
- Miscellaneous Geekery (48)
- Nostalgia (17)
- Sandman Re-Read (11)
- Three Favorite Things (4)
What we JUST said…
- They Can’t All Be Buffys-Zombieland the Pilot
- All the Posts I Meant to Write this Month, Abridged
- Hemlock Grove-A New Guilty Pleasure
- Deborah Harkness and A Discovery of Witches
- Syfy’s Defiance- Hope They Didn’t Blow the Budget on a Song
- Cover Reveal for the New Liz Long Novel Witch Hearts
- From Gen-X, To Chris Hardwick With Love