Available now for your viewing pleasure on DVD - THE TALL MAN. Jessica Biehl tries her best to look Native American in this wannabe thriller from Pascal Laugier. Who's that you ask? I don't know! This is the first movie I've seen from him and first impressions will last for years to come - that is, if he ends up making another movie.
In all seriousness folks, The Tall Man is not what you'd expect from a straight to DVD release. The production value is actually, surprisingly, high. The acting is average. The story is sincere in it's attempt to break the mold, but it still falls short.
Biehl plays Julia Denning, the only nurse in a small run down town. The town is suffering from a massive economic crisis. The school's have shut down, the townspeople are dirty and stinky, children play in the streets - not because its fun but because if they go inside they're liable to get molested, raped, beaten, or a round robin combination of all three. When they're not getting sexually abused, the kids are being abducted by an old urban legend from the town - The Tall Man.
Some claim to have seen him, others just know that he's there - a boogeyman who dresses strikingly similar to the Ring-Wraiths from The Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunately, his cloak does not wave without wind, and he's ultimately less scary than anything in the world. Anything. I'm more scared of bunnies. Bunnies with rainbows all over them. And this is why The Tall Man (at least one of the reasons) falls flat on its face multiple times. Of course, once all is said and done, you understand why The Tall Man isn't that scary.
Biehl's a terrible actress. Always has been. I know she had a brief TV fame run, and she's starred in some blockbusters, and some major flops. She's gotten naked before, and she's considered "hot" by some standards. Nowadays, I find her increasingly annoying. She mails in most of her performances, then questions why she's not landing better roles. Here, we're supposed to believe that Biehl is a caring mother. Given that with each day that passes she looks more and more like a monkey, I could believe her as a mother only if she were going through their fur to look for insects.
The Tall Man snatches up her son and makes off with him, and during this elaborate chase sequence - Julia catches up with the Tall Man and does what so few movies do. A bold move, the protagonist actually whoops the crap out of the antagonist, effectively eliminating all credibility of the "spooky man." It may do well to increase the likability of Julia, but it makes the Tall Man (you know, the guy the movie is named after) look like a massive pussy. From that point on, it's nothing but one disappointing turn after the next - leading up to an anticlimactic and Return of the King like ending. Thirty minutes ¬†before the movie finished, I already knew what the ending was.
Not to spoil the movie for you, but this isn't a scary movie. It's marketed that way, but it's in truth a psychological thriller/drama with topical standpoints on education and the economy, and of course sexual abuse. If you venture down this road expecting a tense, riveting thriller, you're going to be incredibly disappointed.
What The Tall Man does uniquely though, is wrap the story up (predictably once you begin watching it) in a different way. The motivation behind The Tall Man is not what you would normally expect from a movie of this type. Instead, the writer veers off into the more commentative direction, specifically pinpointing the failings of state government and assistance programs, lack of funding for important areas of our culture - education specifically - and ultimately how frail children are, which isn't that surprising seeing as how most kids are wimps.
So while it doesn't break any new ground for the genre, The Tall Man manages a small redeeming quality as a poignant look at the state of the family system - it's poor, it's uneducated, it's struggling families, etc. It's a well known fact that there are towns just like this no more than 50 miles from you right now. For all of its shortcomings - and there are a lot - one good thing about The Tall Man is its intention. It may not succeed on every level, but its aim is true, and for awhile, it's quite refreshing.
MPAA Rating: R for violence and terror, and for language.
Runtime: 106 mins.
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Jessica Biel; Jodelle Ferland; Stephen McHattie; William B. Davis, Samantha Ferris; Eve Harlow
Genre: Crime | Drama | Mystery
Tagline: Fear Takes a New Shape
Memorable Movie Quote: "Nah, that's a myth. There is no tall man."
Distributor: Image Entertainment
Release Date: March 12, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 25, 2012
Synopsis: Darkness has descended over the northwestern town of Cold Rock. One by one, its children are disappearing. They leave behind neither clues nor credible witnesses, but instead a legend, a story cloaked in shadows passed from neighbor to neighbor... And with it, a building sense of terror which threatens to devour what's left of the community itself.
Superstitious locals talk of The Tall Man, a mysterious figure who takes the children away, never to be seen again. But Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) has no time for legends or superstitions. A nurse doing her best for the emotionally distraught and economically devastated former mining town, she tries instead to preserve a semblance of normality both at work and at home. Until terror enters her own front door.
Waking up in the middle of the night, she races to her child's bedroom, only to discover an empty bed -- and a hulking specter in the downstairs doorway who steals off into the darkness with her boy (Jakob Davies).
As Julia follows in pursuit, she will stop at nothing and will risk everything to save him. Joined by determined investigator, Lt. Dodd (Stephen McHattie) and the town's local sheriff (William B. Davis), the chase is on and with it the quest for answers: Who is 'The Tall Man'? What has become of the children?
Soon, the town of Cold Rock will have the answers it so desperately seeks, answers that will shake the community to its core.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - September 25, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.77:1
Subtitles: English (SDH) and Spanish
Audio: 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio
Discs: Single disc DVD
- Visual Concepts
- Deleted Scene