The Tall Man stars Jessica Biel (7th Heaven, A-Team and Total Recall) and is about a small isolated town in a heavily wooded area that seems to be suffering from hard times due to their number one source of finance, a mining cave being shut down awhile back. To add to an already stressful environment, children are going missing without a single trace. Local eye witnesses claim to have seen a man lurking in the shadows and the only description of the suspect is that he is a tall man. With a town in a panic-induced coma, the citizens live in fear of the unknown. Questions run through this town, like the Tall Man's identity, the fate that has befallen the already missing children and the one that sends chills to everyone, "Who will be next?"
The story opens with a crime scene and Julia (Jessica Biel) being treated for cuts and bruises, from what looks like self-defense. (Side note, to all readers that find Biel scorching hot, this is not the film that shows it off...sorry) The film then jumps back 36 hours, where Julia is rushing a woman inside her clinic to help deliver a baby. Once the baby is out, Julia drastically tries to revive the baby. After a few minutes of awkward silence all that can be heard is the sound of a hand softly patting the baby's back. Then you hear the cries, as if the director wanted you to know that every child's life is precious.
Pascal Laugier, whom you'll remember as the director of the infamous Martyrs, does a fine job conveying the vast emptiness of this rural area with muted ambiance and atmosphere. The location sets added to the feel of decay. The shock value is kept to a minimum and the tension is what heightens your fear in this story. Not knowing what's around that next corner.
Towards the middle there is a twist that gets a little confusing and it is somewhat cleared up by the end. But it strengthens the core point of the film, "Who is the Tall Man?" Due to this, the fear factor drops significantly and continues down a road that brings other questions to light. The story is a well-crafted and compelling piece work. It hits on different emotions, not just fear. Towards the end you leave with more intriguing questions like those of parenting and social environment stuff.
One of the things that stood out in this film was the writing. The thought process that went into coming up with a character like the "Tall Man" is one thing but, the back story they create for him that is discovered at the end is ingenious. The "Tall Man" myth comes across very interesting, even though he is barely seen.
Also, Biel gives an amazing performance, where she shows a diverse range of acting talent. She's no longer Mary Camden from Glen Oak. Usually, her films tend to feature her physical attributes so, it was refreshing to the filmmakers make good use of her other talents. Other stand out performances include genre favorites, Jodelle Ferland (Case 39, Silent Hill, The Cabin in the Woods) and Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, Exit Humanity).
What left a bad taste for me was the lack of screen time for the main antagonist. However, that could be a sort of catch 22. Too much onscreen and it turns into a slasher/chase film. but not enough onscreen and it becomes more psychological. What also irked me was how no clear cut ending was established, which isn’t necessarily a make or break thing, and could most likely be rectified with a sequel (crosses fingers) but, sometimes, a little closure goes a long way.
Overall, The Tall Man is an intriguing mind-twist of a mystery with great performances. Not quite the powerful film that Laugier's debut was, but still an entertaining sophomore effort nonetheless.
For those that don't care much about Jessica Biel's acting ability, here's a shot of one of her other impressive supernatural talents. JT's one lucky man...
Until next time,