Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Tall Man (2012)

I wonder if I would've enjoyed The Tall Man more if I hadn't thought it had something to do with Phantasm.  Perhaps the is the first case where eschewing trailers, synopses, etc. backfired, because I kept waiting for something supernatural: for the crazy spiked orb to appear; for the funeral director; for grave-robbing; for something that either signaled to me that this was a remake or the fifth installment of the quadrilogy.  In the end, I realized that this didn't really have anything to do with Phantasm other than the fact that there was a character named The Tall Man.

Aside from my own self-imposed confusions and preconceptions, the plot takes three distinct turns, all of which are welcome individually and collectively.  It begins as a straightforward suspense-thriller about a small ex-mining town, called Cold Rock, in Washington state, where children are disappearing.  The town suspects a figure known as The Tall Man.  Then the film turns into a psychological thriller; and finally into a dramatic moral-dilemma piece.  I won't give anything away by expanding on any of these genres, but I will say that Pascal Laugier (notorious writer-director of Martyrs) did a great job showcasing his talents as a storyteller.

Most notable, visually, is the locale used for the film.  One really feels the gloom and inescapable despair of the deteriorated small-town, U. S. A.  I've seen plenty of films with this setting, but Laugier gives us a beautiful depiction, using all sorts of details: children playing card games atop torn-out vehicle bench seats, for one example.  And there's domestic drama just as we see on episodes of Cops!  Transition shots of natural Washington state are not only breathtaking but also effective at imbibing a sense of isolation on the audience.

I am not a Jessica Biel fan--never have been, not even in the Texas Chainsaw remake; not even in Seventh Heaven.  But Biel shines brightly in The Tall Man.  I was blown away by her acting.  And her looks weren't used at all (as in Texas Chainsaw) to make up for bland acting.  In fact, she's pale and ratty and dressed in unflattering clothing pretty much the entire time.  All other characters were mere flora and fauna, dismissible--well--solely there to support Biel's role.

Though this film has horror elements, you could watch it with anyone who loves suspense-thrillers, as it never really strays too far into mystical horror elements.  But it's still welcome for horror fans as a highly entertaining piece of cinema.  Here's to Pascal Laugier and Jessica Biel for delivering something of worth to the plethora of films out there.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I presume that tall man wears B&T Direct items. :p haha kidding!

    1. I think you may be the first person to ever leave such a treat of a zinger for us here at Horror Dose!